New superstore will be just a Lidl bit bigger...

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Andr� Guedeney, Owner of Andr�s Food Bar

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A LONG-AWAITED discount supermarket will now be built bigger and better after plans for its extension were approved.

An application for a Lidl on the site of the former Homewood Interiors store, on Castle Trading Estate, Southampton Road, Portchester, was approved last July after hundreds on residents signed supporting petitions and held demonstrations.

Work began to demolish the buildings at the end of last year.

But a revised application for the site was submitted to Fareham Borough Council after the chain bought land next door with the intention of extending the store, loading bay and car park.

Councillors on Fareham’s planning committee agreed the revised plan after hearing a deputation from Jason Gratton, Lidl’s head of property for the south and south east.

He said: ‘We had the opportunity as a business, with the overwhelming public support we have received, to acquire the last part of the jigsaw.

‘It’s much more about customer environment as the popularity of the brand has increased in the UK so has the need to improve the brand in store.’

He said the store will now have bigger back-of-house functions, with three warehouses including a chiller, plus a larger delivery bay.

And there will be a mezzanine floor for staff and a manager’s office, making the building taller, with larger glazing at the front and a larger sales area measuring 1,424sq m.

Mr Gratton added: ‘It will be the first of its kind of this store in the south of England to deliver the very latest specification which I believe will be very well received.’

On the committee, Cllr Nick Walker raised concerns about the store detracting business from the nearby Portchester Precinct. He said: ‘I still have concerns about the precinct, but I am fairly happy.

‘I say to our residents if they don’t carry on using shops in the precinct, it will go down hill even more.’

The councillors agreed to the allow the revised plans to go ahead.

Mr Gratton said the store was waiting for an electricity substation to be relocated before construction could start, expected to in April, with the final store opened by December.