Could Aldi be next?

Could Aldi be next?

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As Poundland opens its doors in Tunbridge Wells this week, we reveal how Aldi is set to join the budget retail price war

Would you welcome an Aldi store in Tunbridge Wells?

Poundland Tunbridge Wells is due to open tomorrow – and an Aldi could be hot on its heels, the Times can reveal.

The cut-price supermarket intends to submit a planning application for a new store in a conservation area, behind the Esso service station on Eridge Road, a proposal which also involves demolishing two buildings.

The firm’s initial letter to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council sets out its intention to submit a full application, for plans including an 80-space car park, before the end of the year.

Borough councillor Chris Woodward, in whose Broadwater ward the site falls, said: “I’m open-minded.

“It was to be designated for housing in our draft development plan, and it’s in a conservation area. I’ll have to think about what the implications of that will be.

“Some people feel an Aldi would be good as it’s probably more economical shopping but its impact on those who live nearby could be challenging, as will the impact on roads and traffic. Without pre-judging, I’m conscious there could be challenges on those fronts.”

The pre-application letter was published on TWBC’s website last Monday, ten days before Poundland was due to open on the corner of Goods Station and Grosvenor roads. There appears so far to be little opposition to either plan.

John Cunningham, chairman of Tunbridge Wells Civic Society, said: “It’s not for us to say who can or cannot come to Tunbridge Wells, it’s up to them.

“Almost every major retail chain in the country has a branch here so it’s no surprise Poundland and Aldi want to come, nor should anything be said against them.

“I don’t see Aldi’s application as negative and wouldn’t oppose it. The only reason for not giving permission is if the site isn’t suitable, and that’s for the council planning committee to decide.”
Mr Cunningham added that competition, with Sainsbury’s close by, would be a ‘good thing’, a view shared by James Christie who lives in Nevill Terrace, overlooking the site.

Mr Christie said: “Tunbridge Wells needs to be careful where it puts things because it’s not got a fantastic traffic system but if that’s managed, I think the competition will be good.

“I’m all for it, it sounds fantastic.”

The Eridge Road site is subject to a number of constraints, including the conservation area and its proximity to the Common.

A spokesman for TWBC said that as Aldi is expected to submit a full planning application, it would not be appropriate for the council to comment. Aldi was unavailable for comment.