The land opposite Dock Gate 1 has been the subject of speculation and possible development ideas for some time. At one point there was a planning application for a housing development – but with problems of access and isolation from amenities – and the fact that the rest of the land is really an industrial estate – plus the unstable nature of the cliff behind – this was thrown out by the council.
During the ‘supermarket wars’ of last year Tesco’s Walton Green development lost out to Asda who secured outline planning permission for the site – but for some reason this never materialized. Now Lidl have submitted a planning application for a new 29,000sq ft store to add to its Langer Rd premises which to all intents and purposes has been doing very well – and which they intend to keep open once the new site is up and running.
Plans have been submitted to Suffolk Coastal for what the company describes as one of its ‘Lidl of the Future’ concept stores featuring a sleek, modern design, state-of-the-art facilities and improved staff welfare areas.
But the question remains – are Lidl shooting themselves in the foot? With other supermarkets struggling badly – Lidl and Asda seem to have taken over the bulk of the trade – but mainly because they have been ‘no frills, stack it high sell it cheap’ type of places. If their intention is to go up market – will this leave room for another budget chain to outmaneuver them?
Regional head of property Colin Rimmer said: “We currently trade exceptionally well in Felixstowe and are delighted to announce that we have submitted a planning application with Suffolk Coastal District Council, for a second store.
“If granted this would mark a substantial investment in the area, and the creation of 40 new jobs when the store opens.”
Mr Rimmer said the supermarket would add to Lidl’s existing store portfolio of 630, and form part of the company’s growth plans which aim to have 1,500 stores in the future.
The Haven Exchange store will have a fully glass-fronted façade and boast an in-store bakery, longer-style tills with dual packing facilities, customer toilets, baby changing facilities, and a 142-space car park.
The site between the McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant and the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Kingdom Hall is currently rough, undeveloped land.
Gould Singleton Architects said existing trees would be retained and the proposals would “positively contribute to a vacant site in need of regeneration”.
With Morrisons struggling – and no sign of the proposed development on the railway sidings land after a court injunction by the Co-op stopping any retail development – this could be a good move by Lidl . It remains to be seen if they like Tesco will end up overstretching themselves and loosing touch with their consumer base.