PLANS for a budget supermarket in Eastwood may be turned down for a second time because the building is too boring.
Proposals for a a Lidl store bigger than an Olympic-size swimming pool at the corner of Progress Road and Rayleigh Road have divided the public.
Eastwood Residents’ Association and three-quarters of visitors to a consultation have backed the scheme, but nearby businesses, a 53-signature petition and 78 letters have objected.
Planning officers have recommended Southend Council throw out the plans, as they say a landmark building is needed at the entrance to the Progress Road Industrial Estate.
The store, which would be built over a derelict former Safestore warehouse and part of Essex Timber and Plywood, next door, would create 40 jobs.
Another 53 jobs would be created in office space included in the development, but the timber yard closure – after 30 years – would result in the loss of 14 jobs.
Former Southend mayor Nora Goodman, who is chairman of Eastwood Residents’ Association, said: “They say the building would spoil the area, but what luxurious buildings are there at the moment?
“It’s ridiculous. Lidl is needed and wanted by the majority of people.”
Eastwood residents complain they have to drive to Morrisons in Western Approaches or Tesco Extra in Prince Avenue, to shop.
Of 800 people who attended an open day on the original plans last April, 587 registered support.
But the council turned down the supermarket in favour of a rival mini-business park plan over concerns the store would mean the loss of land on the industrial estate earmarked for industrial or commercial use and cause traffic problems.
Planning officers have again raised concerns about the impact of more traffic at the key junction, despite the German chain offering £25,000 towards remodelling the road lay-out so it could cope.
Andrew Moring, Conservative councillor for Eastwood Park, said: “It would improve the look of the area and provide competition.
“I’m concerned about the effect on smaller shops, but if you look at the Lidl in Woodgrange Drive, Southend, nearby shops are surviving.
“I’m very concerned about Essex Timber and wish Lidl had worked with them to find an alternative location.
“But I don’t necessarily think the design of the building is a strong enough argument.”
A spokesman for Ldl said: “Lidl has substantially changed the design of the building incorporating offices to create active frontages to both Progress Road and Rayleigh Road. We hope that the planning committee see the benefits of our scheme along with the creation of up to 93 jobs.”