Construction of New Addington Lidl to start this month
by Gareth Davies
Lidl's New Addington store could be open as soon as early next year.
Construction of the discount supermarket will begin this month.
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A timeframe for the completion of the project in Parkway, which includes a new store, car parking and 14 new flats, comes as a timely boost for the community.
With the planned £80 million Tesco superstore delayed for at least two year's– the chosen site was controversially declared a village green by an independent inspector – Lidl will be the estate's biggest supermarket.
Building work will start a year after the council fought to prevent Lidl setting up shop on the Cunningham Pub site.
Having rejected the Germany-based company's first plan in 2004 and a revised scheme in May 2007, the council continued its fight into a government planning inquiry.
It had always maintained that Central Parade would be a better location for the store, an argument backed by district centre traders.
Also council chiefs did not want Lidl to be the first thing people saw when they entered the town.
But, in June 2008, Mel Middleton, from the Government's Planning Inspectorate, gave the store the green light.
At the time, Ken Burgess, chairman of the Central Parade Business Partnership, said the location was at odds with the ethos behind the regeneration of the estate.
And he remains firmly opposed to the store following this week's news.
"It's totally the wrong place," he said.
"I don't have anything against Lidl, it's just that the store will take business away from the Parade.
"There's nothing we can do now, so we will have to reluctantly embrace it.
"But if we could stop it now we certainly would."
Mr Burgess did concede that the store would have a positive impact on the local job market.
Lidl has a legal agreement, pledging to employ up to 30 people from the New Addington and Fieldway area.
This goes someway to softening the blow of losing out on the 345 jobs which would have been created by the Tesco scheme.
Despite sharing traders' reservations about the positioning of the store, New Addington Councillor George Ayres hailed the jobs as a "welcome boost" for the area.
He said: "Given the problems with the Tesco scheme, and the loss of jobs, this should alleviate that particular disappointment."