At a specially arranged meeting this week, Supermarket chain ALDI, presented plans to Bridgwater Town Councillors confirming their intention to relocate their Eastover store onto the Northgate site. Elliott Saunders, from Aldi properties and David Williams from Planning Potentials, said a decision had been taken and planning permission was now being sought which would enhance Aldis shopping opportunities in Bridgwater and fit in nicely with Town and District proposals for the much heralded Northgate site.
Northgate had been the site of a major battle between town and district council for several years over the latters plan to put a gigantic Tesco Extra on the Brewery field and the site of the former workhouse which Town Councillors feared would be disastrous for the existing town centre and instead the site should encompass features which were leisure led whilst enhancing the green open space. A compromise position was reached over the years and the Tesco proposal withdrawn in favour of a new primary school , which is now up and running, and a leisure complex based around a multiplex cinema and associated outlets on the former Splash site. With plans to increase and landscape the green area of the Brewery field in the pipeline along with the celebration mile access from town centre to docks, the last piece of the jigsaw was the Glass Cone end of the site, earmarked for either a hotel or a small supermarket. The Aldi proposal to purchase the site is now on the table.
Not a One-Stop Supermarket
Elliott Saunders explained why Aldi was an appropriate business for Northgate. “Aldi is not a one stop supermarket like many others, and in fact our limited ranges encourage people to use us in conjunction with other existing shops. Aldi has been in Bridgwater since 1997 but we can’t extend our current site and so this move is a good alternative, being 40% larger than the current store. There will be 100 car parking spaces, bicycle parking. We will retain the existing tree shield and we will have just the one access, from the south. Our aim is to submit plans in June, start working by the end of the year and to be open by the end of 2019.”
Councillors quizzed the Aldi team on aspects of the plan.
Cllr Liz Leavy (Labour, Wyndham) asked about Zero hours Contracts and was told “We have no ZHCs, our workers are on 20-40 hours a week and paid above the Living wage.”
Cllr Pat Morley (Labour, Westover) asked about environmental matters, building materials and local sources and was told “Aldi sources 75% of our stock from the UK and our materials will be sourced and tendered for locally. Our aircon will be connected to the underfloor heating. We will have limited deliveries with just 2 large lorries a day plus several smaller vehicles for fresh produce.”
Cllr Tony Heywood (Labour,Eastover) was concerned about the traffic pointing out the difficulty of the junction the proximity of the school and the dangers of HGVs being misdirected across the Bascule bridge towards the docks . Aldi assured him that they were“… in communication with Somerset Highways about the junction situation which needed serious thought, although the numbers of HGV using the junction would be minimal.”
Cllr Brian Smedley (Labour, Westover) chairing the meeting said “If Aldi can address the 5-junctions traffic issue then the rest of it seems to work. It’s not the supermarket collossus that Tescos planned to be and it fits nicely into a corner of a mixed use site which will complement not detract from the existing town centre. They appear to be mindful of the new residential areas around them that have sprung up recently and they are retaining the tree cover, which is important for this. It will however be crucial that their vacating of their Eastover site gets a response that will make best use of that valuable piece of land within the Eastover triangle and between 2 new hotels so that the area is regenerated when the Celebration mile wends it’s way through there.”