Hearty applause from the public gallery greeted Horsham District Council’s decision to approve plans to build a Lidl supermarket in the town.
The superlatives were flying at a planning meeting on Tuesday evening (October 2) where councillors described the application as ‘terrific’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘a wonderful opportunity’.
The supermarket, which will create 40 jobs, will be built in Foundry Lane, on land where the former Dreams warehouse has stood empty for years.
It will include parking for 51 cars and two motorbikes and will be open from 7am to 11pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 5pm on Sunday.
The meeting was told that 150 letters of support had been received, while Peter Burgess (Con, Holbrook West) dismissed objections from Waitrose, which has a store on the other side of town, as a ‘diatribe’.
Mr Burgess added: “This is a derelict site disused for some years. It will not draw trade from the town centre because there’s nothing really in our town which competes against it.
“Horsham really does need more supermarkets and this is highlighted by the empty shelf syndrome that we so often see in the supermarkets we’ve got.”
He joked that he would like to see Lidl followed by Aldi and Morrison’s.
Roy Cornell (Con, Roffey South) said: “This is a brownfield site, it has an ugly building on it. This building, to my sense of thinking, is terrific. It’s a wonderful opportunity, it’s a wonderful site.”
His views were shared by Ron Bates, of the Horsham Society, who said the site had been ‘an eyesore for too long’.
Christine Costin (Lib Dem, Trafalgar) added: “Horsham has waited a long, long time for a supermarket like Lidl. We’ve been looking for years. It’s a brilliant plan. I’m delighted to see it coming.”
A spokesman for Lidl said work on the site was expected to start in the new year with a view to opening the supermarket by the end of 2019.
James Mitchell, Lidl regional head of property, told the meeting he had never seen such a positive response to an application.
After the meeting, he added: “We could not be more delighted to have received planning permission, and look forward to getting started on construction.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the local community for all of their support, and very much look forward to opening our doors and offering our fresh, quality, great value products in the not too distant future.”