Mixed reaction on plans for new Lidl store on the outskirts of Barnard Castle
By Lyndsay Oxley - Reporter
PLAN for a supermarket on the outskirts of town could kill the high street, according to some traders although others say competition will be good.
Supermarket giant Lidl and discount retailer Home Bargains have announced plans to redevelop the site of the former Addisons auction house, just off the A688.
The site would include a Lidl food store covering 20,882sq ft, a Home Bargains store of 15,000sq ft and 144 car parking spaces. It is believed that 60 full-time and part-time jobs would be created if the retail development is approved by Durham County Council. The news received a mostly positive reaction from residents on social media with many saying they want a second supermarket in Barnard Castle so they can have more choice.
But business owners in the town centre expressed concerns about the proposals which are being put forward by development firm Consolidated Property Group.
David and Pam Wilson, of Wilson’s household store, say the plans are a concern, especially with the possibility of a Home Bargains store on the doorstep.
Mr Wilson said: “Lidl would be okay but Home Bargains sell a lot of the stuff we sell. If they start coming into the town, we might as well go. If there is going to be out-of-town shopping as near as that then this town will be like a ghost town.”
Mrs Wilson said: “I don’t think it will bring people into the town. They will go there and that is as far as they will go.”
Mr Wilson added: “Whatever we say it will go ahead anyway because money talks.”
The pair also voiced their concerns about the increase in traffic on the A688 near the site entrance.
Stuart McFarlane, who has been running McFarlane Family Butchers in the town for the past 20 years, echoed their worries.
He said: “I don’t think it is a good idea. I would say I am probably against it. It would have a knock-on effect for me.
“From a business point of view, I think it would harm us. We can’t compete with a company like Lidl. If they are going to do something then they should do it in the town. Building it out of town kills the town off.
“We have already got Morrisons here and there is a Lidl in Bishop Auckland which is only ten minutes away. I think everyone can get everything they need from what is already in the town. I just can’t justify it and I can’t see how it could be busy enough to sustain that many jobs.”
Mr McFarlane believes an increase in traffic on the stretch of the A688 would be a problem.
He said: “I think it is a dangerous bit of road. It is busy and it is going to create a lot of traffic
“ It is what it is though if the council make its mind up and decide it will let it go ahead. It will be the people who have supported the town for years who will be the losers.”
Similarly, Linda Pitchers, who runs This ’n’ That household store, believes that such development would “drive trade away from the town”.
She said: “It is a worry. People will be able to go there and get parked. Here it is a fight. I think it is a shame for Morrisons. To make it fair they should make the car park here free.”
Meanwhile, some traders did not seem daunted by the announcement.
Annette Clifton, owner of The Orchard, said: “Having a Lidl there makes no odds to us. I don’t think it will affect us. We already have a supermarket here. Morrisons is bad for us because we are independent but they are there and we live with that.
“The people who support local shops will still come to the local shops.”
Kenny Walker, of the Chocolate Fayre, also believes that his business would be unaffected. He said: “I always try and look at the positives and see what the opportunities are. People who live locally seem to be quite pleased.
“Overall I don’t think it will have a massive affect on the town. I think it will give people choice which is never a bad thing. People will be staying here and saving on travel time to Bishop Auckland.
“There is an argument for it with the growing population that is happening around Barnard Castle. If you are a business owner in the town and you are in that category of competition you will need to up your game a bit. Competition drives interest.”
A public consultation was due to take place at The Witham, on Tuesday, November 27, between 2pm and 8pm, for people to view the plans.