IT’S a store that hundreds of people fought to see open – and they’ll finally be able to enjoy the fruits of their labours tomorrow.
The new Lidl store in Castle Trading Estate, off Southampton Road in Portchester, will open tomorrow at 8am.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held, with Mayor of Fareham Councillor Connie Hockley in attendance.
Lidl will be offering samples of its products throughout the day – and for the first week customers will be able to get 30 per cent off selected meat and poultry and up to £30 off selected non-food products.
Peter Brudenell, from Buckland, said he was delighted to see it open at last.
He said: ‘I can get a direct bus there. I’m pleased to see it finally open. It’s taken a long time.’
The store has been proposed for at least three years, but it faced objections from the local authority, which was concerned that its opening would take shoppers from the main shopping precinct and that it would see valuable industrial space lost to retail.
A huge campaign was launched, with Lidl writing to thousands of residents to muster support.
A petition in support of the proposals gathered more than 4,300 signatures and a crowd of 400 packed out the Ferneham Hall to watch the council’s planning committee make its final decision.
The plans were approved and work started to build the 1,424sq m store, which has created 40 new jobs.
Lidl UK’s regional property director, Oliver McGuinness, said: ‘We’d like to thank all those who have played a part in bringing this new Lidl store to Portchester.
‘It’s wonderful for us to be able to create more jobs and investment opportunities in the area and we can’t wait to start serving our multi-award winning products to the local community.’
The store’s opening date was posted on its Facebook page.
But it caused some upset as it declared the store to be in Fareham, not Portchester. After hundreds of people commented on the post, the location was corrected.
Laura Johnson, communications consultant, said: ‘We’re very sorry to hear about the mistake with the name.
‘I’m originally from the area, so fully understand people’s feelings towards this.
‘We investigated with the relevant team and can confirm that the error occurred when the postcode was entered into the Facebook system. The team were alerted to it earlier in the day and have now corrected it.’