Representatives from supermarket chain Aldi displayed plans on 17 May at Abbey Meads Primary School for a 990 square metre store on Latham Road, next to David Lloyd Leisure Centre.
The site at the east end of of Thamesdown Drive, presently obscured by earth banking and shrub planting, will be cleared so that the store will be visible next to the traffic lights at the junction 1.
As reported earlier on SwindonLink.com, North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson had expressed his concern that the consultation was set up at too short notice, at a time of day when most residents would be at work and therefore unavailable to comment.
Richard Williams, Property Director with Aldi Stores Ltd was keen to affirm that the consultation was open until 7pm on Monday 17th, rather than the widely publicised 6pm. “We have received positive comments about the design which will match the contemporary design and finish of the Motorola building and David Lloyd centre on adjacent sites,” he said.
“People are interested in our offer, which, because of efficient business practices is like-for-like 30 percent cheaper than the big supermarkets.”
He emphasised that because most of the products sold in Aldi are own brand lines, and the store does not sell newspapers, he did not think the store was in competition with smaller retailers.
Abbey Meads councillors Vera Tomlinson, Peter Stoddart and Peter Heaton-Jones attended the event, keen to find out residents’ concerns about the development, in advance of a planning application being made by the firm.
“We are actively seeking feedback from local residents on this development by leafleting the area with a questionnaire over the next few weeks,” said Vera.
Peter Lawson-Foster, who has lived at St Andrews Ridge for ten years, said he objected to the Aldi development. “It’s important that we take a stand on this. There are already so many large superstores in this area, why do we need another?”
He is also worried about the potential use of Salzgitter Drive by delivery trucks taking a short cut back to the A419. However, Rob Williams, an independent traffic consultant contracted by Aldi to carry out transport analysis for the proposed development, pointed out that the retailers’ delivery trucks have strict itineraries and would not be permitted to take alternative routes during their deliveries.
Richard Williams also refutes the store’s likelihood of increasing traffic congestion in the area. “We are relying on pass-by custom and do not anticipate significant additional traffic.”
Groundwell West resident Philippa Kennard’s main concern was for other smaller shops in the area which she thought will see trade drop as a result of the new Aldi.
Kanthappu Bala and Chandrakumar Jeyam, proprietors of Costcutter at St Andrew’s Ridge local centre less than three quarters of a mile away, hold out little hope for theirbusiness if the Aldi plan goes ahead. Mr Jeyam said, “we are already faced with high rent and rates and are just beginning to break even three years after taking over the shop.
"If Aldi open up so close by we will definitely lose trade and our business will be threatened. People living on St Andrew’s Ridge will lose a valuable local service,” said Mr Jeyam.