PLANS to build an Aldi supermarket in a New Forest town have been approved - just months after a similar scheme was narrowly rejected.

District councillors have gone against the advice of planning officers and approved the latest application to redevelop part of the Solent Industrial Estate at Caird Avenue, New Milton.

Cllr Arthur Davies said: "It seems to me New Milton want this in their town and I think it would be a shame to refuse."

The 1,862sqm store is expected to create up to 50 full and part-time jobs.

Aldi's previous application was refused by just one vote last May. Councillors were told a former Co-op store at Station Road - New Milton's high street - was a better site for the new supermarket but Aldi said it lacked suitable parking.

The German discount chain submitted a revised scheme that aimed to address some of the other issues raised by the council.

The latest application sparked 50 letters of support and only 11 from people objecting to the scheme.

Aldi supporters said Caird Avenue was an excellent site for the store. They added that extra competition could cut the cost of a weekly shop and also claimed that vibrant high streets "were a thing of the past".

Planning officers continued to argue that the supermarket should be built in the town centre but members approved the scheme.

A report to councillors acknowledged that previous reasons for refusal, including concerns about the quality of the landscaping, had been overcome.

Speaking after the meeting an Aldi spokesperson said: "We are delighted the committee voted overwhelmingly in favour of supporting our application.

"The application received a huge amount of local support and we are very grateful for all the positive comments that have been received.

"The committee engaged in a well-informed debate and concluded that Caird Avenue represents the only suitable site for the scheme.

"We're pleased the committee recognised the benefits the store will bring, understood that it's good news for the town and is widely supported locally.

"We look forward to concluding our discussions so we can commence the development of the store as soon as possible."

New Milton Town Council had urged the district council to approve the application.

Speakers at the recent town council meeting included Alan Watson, chairman of New Milton Residents’ Association.

He said a straw poll of members found that 65% of the 468 respondents supported Aldi’s latest proposal, with 29% against.


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