BUDGET supermarket Lidl has been refused planning permission at appeal after plans for a new supermarket in a Herefordshire town were rejected by Herefordshire Council.

County planners turned down the scheme, which would have involved demolishing part of the Wolf Business Park on Gloucester Road in Ross-on-Wye and building a store on the 2.2-acre site, in July 2019.

The developers said the plans, which received 16 objections from members of the public and Morrisons Supermarkets, would have created around 100 jobs at the store and refurbished the wider business park.

But planning officers said the scheme would be detrimental to the long term protection of the historic town centre.

They also said Lidl failed to demonstrate why they could not use land or buildings within the defined central shopping and commercial area in Ross.

Other grounds for refusal included the unnecessary loss of trees, road safety concerns and that it would result in the loss of employment land.

In the appeal decision, published this month, inspector Philip Major said the diversion of trade from town centre retailers is likely to impact on more specialist shops in the town, but found that Lidl had satisfied the 'sequential test' by considering sites closer to the town centre first.

He also found that siting the supermarket on the Wolf Business Park would not result in a significant loss of employment land as there was no convincing evidence to prove a shortage of employment land in the area. 

The plans were also found to have no directly harmful impact on the area's heritage assets. But, the inspector said, it was not possible to judge the harm the development could have on the town centre's historic assets if approved.

And the design of the proposed shop was found to "fall short of what might be expected in this locality," he said.

"I acknowledge that the existing buildings on site are not attractive, despite being ‘of their time’. Even so, this is an important gateway site for the town, and in part has a wooded backdrop with hills beyond.

"Despite explaining the design proposed, and pointing out the changes to external cladding, the proposed store remains close to what might be deemed a typical company product. It is essentially a rectangular box with an almost flat roof profile using a limited palette of materials."

Refusing the appeal, Mr Major said he had found the proposal would be in conflict with the retail proposals of the development plan.

"The design of the proposed store would be unacceptable in this location and this too conflicts with the development plan," he said.

"The loss of employment land conflicts with the development plan, but the weight I give to this conflict is reduced as explained above."