Lidl’s scored a victory but it’s a big loss for industry

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Usually the opening of an extended supermarket is something to celebrate.

New jobs, a bit of diversity – and confidence – in the local economy and a reason for shoppers to head to an area; hopefully spending their precious cash in other nearby shops and businesses.

But the situation with Lidl in Newgate Lane, Fareham, is rather different.

A huge new store would usually be welcomed on an industrial estate. But it will come at a heavy price.

Fareham Borough Council’s planning committee yesterday gave the green light to the German supermarket giant to knock down its existing store an build a bigger one, extending into the site of what was once a thriving industrial estate, full of highly-skilled workers in industries such as manufacturing and design.

The 14 businesses there make parts and components that are exported all over the world.

Newgate Lane is the perfect location to get products out and goods in via roads, ports and airports.

But they will all have to leave.

Some have already moved their businesses while others say the cost of relocating from this strategically important site will be too great and they will have no choice but to shut their businesses.

What a shame to lose scores of highly-skilled jobs.

But the council’s hands are tied.

There is no way in planning law they could turn the proposals down.

If they had, there is no doubt Lidl would have used all it’s clout to go to appeal – and they would have won.

How has it come to this – that councils can be bullied into giving permission for developments simply because they know they’ll ending paying heavily for it if they refuse?

And that ultimately comes out of the taxpayers’ pockets.

It’s a disgrace.