Round two in town's battle of the supermarkets

The land planned for 45 homes and a new Lidl in Watton

Abel Homes is requesting permission from Breckland Council to build 45 homes on land north of Norwich Road, in the east of Watton. The homes would sit alongside a new discount store - earmarked to be a Lidl. - Credit: Google

Developers are seeking new permission for a Lidl store to open in Watton, after a previous bid was blocked by rival Tesco.

Breckland Council will this week consider the application for the supermarket on land north of Norwich Road, as part of a wider scheme which will also include 45 homes.

An earlier version of the plan was approved by the council in August 2021 but was later quashed in the High Court after Tesco launched an appeal.

The supermarket already has an outlet in the town and argued that if its Lidl opened a store it would have an "adverse impact" on the town centre.

In a July 2021 letter to the council, a consultant acting on Tesco’s behalf insisted their client’s objection to the plan was in no way “motivated by a desire to prevent competition within the food retailing industry” but instead “related entirely to proper planning considerations alone”.

They argued rather that Lidl’s arrival would bring a “significant adverse impact on Watton town centre’s vitality and viability” as a whole.

And they pointed out that Breckland’s local plan - a document specifying how the district should grow over the coming years - had allocated the land for a 60-bed care home, not a discount store.

The Tesco supermarket in Watton town centre, pictured in August 2021

The Tesco supermarket in Watton town centre, pictured in August 2021 - Credit: Google

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But the plan is to be looked at again by Breckland’s planning committee on Tuesday March 15, as council officers are satisfied that enough new conditions could be placed on the Lidl store to ensure any new permission would be lawful.

These new conditions include restrictions on its total floorspace and how much of that area can be dedicated to particular kinds of goods.

Writing in support of the scheme, local Conservative councillor Tina Kiddell said: “I strongly and wholeheartedly support this application. It will be good for Watton to have a new food store. 

George Freeman MP, Tina Kiddell Mayor of Watton, Deven Changela and Chandni Changela owners of the W

Conservative district councillor Tina Kiddell, pictured during her time as mayor of Watton - Credit: Archant

“There has been some consternation from the public with regards the housing at the side of Lidl but there has been overwhelming support for Lidl. 

“The houses I hasten to add are good ones and are in keeping with the streetscape."

Watton Town Council has given its support to the new supermarket, but said it would prefer to see fewer houses delivered alongside it.

Of the 45 homes intended to go up, 11 are planned as affordable.