PLANS for a new Aldi supermarket in Poole have been approved, despite concerns it could divert people away from shopping in the town centre.

Councillors were warned the Fleets Corner store could “devastate” Poole town centre by drawing more people away from high streets.

However, BCP Council’s planning committee approved Aldi’s scheme when it met on Thursday, saying it was “exactly what was needed” in the town.

The chain submitted its latest application in August after withdrawing previous plans for the vacant unit next to Wren Kitchens in a bid to resolve legal issues to do with the way they were submitted.

Aldi property director Lee McCandless said the new shop would represent “significant investment” in the town, creating 30 jobs.

“There is only one Aldi store in Poole, local residents therefore have to travel some distance,” a statement read out on his behalf at Thursday’s meeting said.

“The scheme will repurpose the existing retail unit, which has been vacant for over a year, delivering beneficial economic development.

“The proposed, modest, store will fill a complementary shopping role that will reduce the need to travel further afield – keeping shopping local.”

But concerns were raised about the impact the new supermarket would have on other shops in the surrounding area.

Oakdale councillor Felicity Rice said it would exacerbate issues with the area’s high streets, drawing people away from the town centre.

Her fears were echoed by councillor Ann Stribley.

“We have a very strong policy in our local plan that these sites should be for heavy goods,” she said. “This is yet another stopping point for people travelling from the north and west and will deteriorate the town centre.”

Council planning officer Clare Spiller said an independent retail assessment had been commissioned and that it found the new supermarket was “unlikely to have an adverse impact” on existing shops.

She added that there were already vacant units for DIY stores and recommended that planning permission be granted.

Councillor Toby Johnson warned his fellow committee members about going against the findings of the assessment and added: “any opportunity to restore an empty unit in these trying times is an excellent idea”.

He was supported by committee chairman councillor David Kelsey, whose East Cliff and Springbourne ward has recently seen the construction of a new Aldi supermarket.

“Bringing back an industrial unit into use and creating local jobs for local people is exactly what we need at this moment in time,” he said.

Councillors agreed by 13 votes to two to approve the plans, paving the way for Aldi to convert the vacant unit into a new store.