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Plans for new Lidl in Rickmansworth, in Rectory Road, rejected by Three Rivers
Plans to turn the former Rickmansworth Police Station into a budget supermarket have been thrown out by politicians.
The application by Lidl to turn the former Rectory Road station into a discount food store received more than 100 objections from residents, with two people writing into Three Rivers District Council in support of the proposals.
An online petition against the application also garnered more than 400 signatures, with its rival petition gaining 171 names in support of the plans.
Residents packed into the council chamber at Three Rivers House tonight to hear the proposals being discussed by the planning committee.
Speaking against the application and on behalf of residents, James Finch told the committee: “The large number of people who took the time to object is a perfect illustration of the strong local feeling against this proposal.
“When this land is developed it is a wonderful opportunity to enhance and improve a site next to a Conservation Area and close to a Local Nature Reserve.
“This opportunity should be grasped rather than wasted.
“The Lidl proposal will merely replace the unsatisfactory current buildings with an equally unattractive building whose sheer bulk and impact officers no architectural merit.”
Original plans for the store indicated that it would be built in Lidl’s trademark grey exterior, but revised plans showed it would be finished in red brickwork.
Mr Finch added: “The whole of the Lidl plan seems to be full of compromises and cut corners.”
The proposed store’s proximity to the town centre and the effect it could have on local businesses was also discussed.
Mr Finch said: “The jobs the store will bring could easily be surpassed by the number lost as small local shops feel the pinch from this powerful retailer.”
Proposals were that the store would be open from 8am to 10pm on Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 5pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
It is estimated that the site would be able to house around 20 homes, which officers explained would "contribute to meeting the much needed housing in Rickmansworth and the district as a whole".
Mr Finch said: “The loss of land designated for housing will be felt in an area that already suffers from a lack of suitable residential sites.”
Yet spokesman for the applicant, Danny Hazlehurst, told the committee that Three Rivers had “exceeded their requirement for council housing”.
He added: “The loss of this site will have no effect on the district being able to meet its targets.”
The application site shares an access road with Rickmansworth Fire and Ambulance Station and concerns were raised by officers over the "conflict between shoppers and emergency vehicles".
Councillor Ann Shaw welcomed the officers recommendations that the committee refuse the application and politicians unanimously threw out the proposals.
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