Bedford Borough Council defers new Kempston Lidl bid

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Plans to build one of the largest Lidl stores in the country at Kempston hit a snag this week.

Councillors went against their officers’ advice that the controversial planning application should be granted.

Instead they adjourned the matter, at the request of protesting residents, so they could visit the site for themselves.

The final decision will now be made in November.

Bedford Borough Council officers had recommended on Monday evening that Lidl be allowed to build a massive 2,800 square metre store in Ridge Road, opposite Kempston Rural Lower School.

The site is just one mile away from Lidl’s existing store in Manor Drive.

More than 120 households sent letters objecting to the new plan, stating the building would be an eyesore, too large for the area, and would conflict with the Masterplan.

They were also concerned that the planned 10pm closure time would be disruptive.

But in a report to the planning committee, council officers stated the opening hours were “reasonable” as the site was originally earmarked for a community hall – which would have stayed open even later.

Their report stated: “The proposed development is of a satisfactory scale which will not cause harm to the vitality and viability of Kempston town.

“The use of sympathetic external materials will ensure that it will not appear discordant having regard to the emerging character of the local area.”

Residents, who have organised an online petition on change.org, also claim the extra traffic generated would be dangerous for children.

One householder said: “We were led to believe by Barratt Homes and previous planning applications to expect a ‘local centre’ to include a small shop, a medical centre and a community centre.

“For many of us, this was a big selling point of the area.”