PLANS to build a new Aldi store in New Milton could hit the buffers due to a dispute over whether there is a more suitable site in the town centre.

Members of New Forest District Council's (NFDC) planning committee have been advised to reject the scheme from the discount supermarket chain, which submitted proposals to open on a site in Caird Avenue - a short distance from the Tesco superstore.

A report by council planning officer Vivienne Baxter says the application should not be approved as an "alternative, sequentially preferable location" has been identified in the town centre.

Ms Baxter's report says the former Co-op unit and surface car park in Station Road could be used Aldi, however, the applicants disagree.

"The proposal is considered acceptable having regard to matters such as BREEAM (Building Research Establishments Environmental Assessment Method) , design and materials, retail impact and contamination," said Ms Baxter's report.

"However, it has been demonstrated that an alternative, sequentially preferable location within New Milton town centre exists and the proposal fails on the retail sequential test and due to inadequate landscaping would have an adverse impact on character of the area made up by a strong green infrastructure link along Caird Avenue."

A letter written by Dan Templeton, of Planning Potential on behalf of Aldi, said the former Co-op site alone could not provide adequate parking, while the acquisition of the neighbouring unit – currently occupied by HSBC – could not be guaranteed within 12 months. He said Aldi believe they could have a store open in Caird Avenue by early 2021.

Mr Templeton's letter added: "In any event, the site [former Co-op store] would not be available to accommodate a foodstore development until early 2022, and should not therefore be considered available within a reasonable period of time when compared with the application site."

As reported, Aldi's plans for Caird Avenue proposed a supermarket with 127 parking spaces, creating an estimated 30 new jobs.

The site is earmarked for a food retail development in the emerging New Milton neighbourhood plan.

New Milton Town Council said the scheme was acceptable, while 14 objections were raised, citing existing traffic problems, the lack of need for another supermarket and an adverse impact on the town centre.

Members of NFDC's planning committee are due to discuss the proposal and make their decision when they meet on Wednesday, May 27.