Discount retail giant Lidl has emerged victorious in its quest to establish a presence in Salford’s Castle Irwell scheme. The triumph comes after facing setbacks with a rejected planning application in the summer of 2021 and an unsuccessful appeal, where concerns about the proposed 23,300 sq ft store’s size were raised and upheld by the inspectorate.
Undeterred by previous setbacks, Lidl adapted its strategy, and Salford council officers recently granted approval for a revised plan featuring a scaled-down store, reduced to 20,000 sq ft. The proposed location, nestled on the corner of Cromwell Road and Littleton Road, received the green light under delegated powers. Notably, the new blueprint relocates the store closer to Littleton Road while shifting the vehicle access point to Cromwell Road. This adjustment opens up to a spacious car park, boasting 100 spaces, including dedicated spots for disabled visitors, parents with children, and two electric vehicle charging stations, complemented by five motorbike parking bays.
While the majority of public representations supported Lidl’s venture, emphasizing the positive impact on the neighborhood and the retail landscape, not all voices sang praises. One objection called for a fence between the store and nearby Ribot Walk to enhance safety in the gated area, accompanied by a demand for comprehensive CCTV monitoring. In response, the city council outlined plans for an additional footpath parallel to Ribot Walk, emphasizing an effort to improve pedestrian and cycle connectivity to and from the store.
An opposing viewpoint criticized the proposed abundance of parking spaces, branding it as a relic of outdated urban planning. The argument contended that better-defined pedestrian links, well-lit pathways, and an avoidance of traversing car parks should be prioritized. In defense, council officers asserted that the parking provisions align with city standards, with careful consideration given to minimizing the impact on the development’s design qualities.
The site’s historical significance, once home to the Manchester Racecourse from 1847 to 1963, has not been overlooked. The modernization of the course in 1902 left behind two enduring structures – the red-brick boundary wall and the turnstiles building. Acknowledging the historical backdrop, the council’s report underlines the proposed development’s potential to enhance the vitality and viability of the newly-designated Charlestown Local Centre. Furthermore, it is anticipated to cater to the convenience goods retail needs of residents in the surrounding areas, including the emerging Castle Irwell neighborhood.
Crucially, the revised scheme addresses concerns raised during the evaluation of the previous proposal, ensuring a meticulous focus on layout, scale, appearance, landscaping, and connectivity. The commitment to a high-quality design approach underscores the council’s endorsement of the development as a valuable contributor to the local landscape.
Importantly, the report emphasized that the proposed development would not compromise the significance of the neighbouring Grade II-listed former Co-op building. As plans progress, Lidl’s triumphant bid signals a new chapter for the Castle Irwell site, navigating the delicate balance between progress and preservation in Salford’s evolving urban tapestry.