Boost as discount store is lined up for Locks Heath Shopping Village

Jack Martin is calling for the return of this much-loved Tom Parker milk float after it was stolen during the night

Original Tom Parker Dairies milk float is stolen

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THEY’VE taken the country by storm and now they could be coming to Fareham.

Plans have been revealed for a new discount supermarket, with Aldi and Lidl in the frame, bringing scores of jobs to the area.

The owner of Locks Heath Shopping Village – New River Retail – says the store could open in the centre’s car park.

The plot was originally going to be turned into a leisure centre and swimming pool by Fareham Borough Council but the authority decided to build the centre at Coldeast instead.

That left the shopping centre able to consider ideas for the space.

Council leader Sean Woodward confirmed the plans.

He said: ‘New River Retail is looking at bringing more shops into the centre and the view is that an Aldi or a Lidl would complement the Waitrose very well.

‘I think it would be very good. It’s maximising the choice in shopping which is always a good thing.

‘We need jobs and we need choice in shopping and this would provide both.’

Shopping centre manager Ian Goodridge said it was very early days with the discounters but did not rule it out.

Stuart Mitchell, director of New River Retail, said the firm was always looking at future opportunities.

‘We want to improve our shopping centres and specifically in Locks Heath Shopping Village,’ he said.

‘We’re delighted that we now have all the shops fully let, having bought it with a number of vacancies in 2010 together with introducing Waitrose, Costa, free wi-fi and upgrading the car park.’

The plan was discussed at a Community Action Team meeting in Sarisbury Green.

Residents were generally happy about Aldi or Lidl coming but feared the impact it could have on Lockswood Community Centre.

Residents raised concerns about the plans for the existing community centre, which could be moved from its current location to allow more shops to move in.

The centre is run by an association made up of six of the centre’s users and it is owned by Fareham Borough Council. The association saved it from closure two years ago and it is due to sign a new three-year lease in July.

Geoff Eales, from the association, said the uncertainty was proving difficult in terms of planning and applying for grants, such as one to turn a room into a dance studio and to install a new kitchen.

He said: ‘All the shops, restaurants and units should be kept up-to-date with what’s going on.’

People from Locks Heath were in favour of either Aldi or Lidl moving in saying it would offer more choice.

Sami Cousins, 32, from Crescent Road, said: ‘I think it would be great for Locks Heath to have a Lidl or Aldi.

‘We have nothing like that nearby at the moment and it offers more choice on what you pay.’

Martin James agreed. He lives near a Tesco Express in Heath Road but said either discount store would add to the shopping centre.

‘I welcome either and it can only be a good thing for us,’ he said.

Aldi, this week voted retailer of the year by The Grocer magazine, would not confirm or deny whether it was looking at the centre, and Lidl did not respond to The News.