Aldi store will ‘add to Alnwick’s attraction’

The Willis site in Alnwick
The Willis site in Alnwick

Plans for Aldi and Majestic Wines stores at the former Willis’ garage site in Alnwick will add to the town’s attraction, a planning meeting heard last night.

The application, made by Northumberland Estates, was given the go-ahead with just one of Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee members objecting.

It will see a site, which has been left derelict for the last five years, being brought back into use and it is hoped the stores will create around 30 jobs.

Colin Barnes, from the Estates, spoke in support of the plans. He said: “We don’t want to be sending out the message that Alnwick is closed for business. Alnwick is a major service centre, serving a large area and Aldi will add to the attraction that brings. We want to be encouraging investment in Alnwick. This development will do that and strengthen economic business. Aldi will represent an investment for £4million in the town.”

Alnwick town and county councillor Gordon Castle recommended approval of the plans. He said: “I think this will provide something extra in the town that will add to its attraction. There is bound to be some negative impact on the town, I agree, but I don’t think it should be refused because of that.

“I think it will be an excellent form of competition for the supermarkets and they can sustain that. On the whole it will benefit the town, it will make for more competition and it will provide what people want.”

Coun Trevor Thorne added: “Mr Barnes hit the nail on the head. It is all about choice. Here are two big names to get people coming to Alnwick again.”

The two new stores will be designed in a contemporary style with flat roofs and there will be 99 car parking spaces.

There were objections to the plans and David Taylor spoke on behalf of Alnwick Chamber of Trade.

He said: “We are not against businesses coming to Alnwick but we would prefer them to be in locations that would enhance other businesses. There are several empty units on Lagny Street opposite Morrisons. The impact on trade in the town will be negative for several reasons.”

The developments have to be completed within three years and there are a number of conditions attached to the approval.