A BID to open an Aldi near Braintree is opposed by council planning officers, the budget supermarket chain has been told.

Aldi submitted plans for a 12,000 sq ft store at the entrance of the Skyline 120 business park in Great Notley in May.

The firm says it has been told by planning officers they will recommend councillors turn down the scheme because the land is reserved for employment use only, not retail.

Roland Stanley, Aldi property director, said: “It goes without saying we are extremely disappointed that officers do not feel in a position to support our proposals, on what is essentially an opinion as to what is and is not the right kind of ‘job’ for the site.

“Our marketing evidence, submitted with the application clearly shows there has been no demand for redeveloping the site for other employment uses.

“The site currently contributes no jobs, compared to the 50 new jobs Aldi would create, as well as opportunities for local firms to tender during the construction phase.

“Aldi are market leaders in terms of pay and we do not offer zero-hours contracts.

“A job at Aldi is very real and we are firmly committed to investing in the area.

“I am also extremely disappointed on behalf of the vast majority of Great Notley residents who support the proposals and have welcomed the much-needed choice that Aldi will bring to the village.

“We would urge the council to rethink their position and hope that the planning committee will approve our application.”

Aldi has sent leaflets to homes in Great Notley claiming more than 90 per cent of residents support the proposal.

The leaflet points out a planning application has been submitted for another 60,000 sq m business park opposite Tesco in Great Notley.

It also provides contact details for Braintree MP James Cleverly and planning committee chairman Wendy Scattergood. The application has received three objections from residents, one from Great Notley Parish Council and 21 submissions in support.

A Braintree Council spokesman said: “The proposal will in due course be the subject of a detailed report to the council’s planning committee that will assess all the relevant factors and will be discussed in due course.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

‘Potential opportunity’ for store to open in town centre

ALDI should consider opening in a store in Braintree town centre if their application is refused, Braintree Council’s leader has said.

Graham Butland also dismissed suggestions that the authority had favoured some supermarket chains over others as “nonsense”.

He said: “As far as I’m concerned, the planning application has been submitted, it’s going through the process and the result of that application will be determined.

“All I will say is there are a number of local residents who are not in favour.

"I have no idea of numbers because we haven’t held a referendum.

“Some of the people who are supporting it don’t live in the vicinity of the proposal, so will not be affected.

“As with every planning application, there are two sides to the argument.”

Mr Butland said he was “personally disappointed” by the council’s decision to turn down Sainsbury’s plans for a store on the Broomhill’s Industrial Estate.

But he pointed out it was made on planning grounds and backed by Government officials.

He said: “There are some ill-informed and ignorant people who know nothing about the planning process.

“If you take the latest case of Sainsbury’s, that was turned down by a planning inspector.

“If you are going to say that the planning inspectors are in the pocket of one supermarket or another then fine, but that’s a nonsense.”

Mr Butland said in the case of Aldi, the council would be wrong to give up employment land for retail use just because landowners say they cannot find another buyer.

He said an alternative site could be found in Morrisons in Rayne Road, which is set to close later this year.

He said: “If they feel that Braintree district needs an Aldi, and if the planning application for the piece of land at Great Notley is refused, then there is a potential opportunity which would mean they could be trading a year earlier.”

An Aldi spokesman said: “Aldi have considered this unit on a number of occasions and dismissed it as it does not meet their operational requirements.

“Morrisons’ confirmed departure does not change these facts. The building remains unsuitable for Aldi.”