The vast majority of people surveyed about a new superstore in Ivybridge gave it a resounding thumbs up.
But plans submitted to South Hams Council have received a whopping 157 objections, compared to just 22 letters of support.
Proposals have been submitted to turn the car park off Leonards Road into an Aldi supermarket, complete with a two-storey short stay car park.
Many residents believe the development will rip the heart out of the town and lead to a loss of valuable public car parking spaces.
In March 2020 South Hams Council commissioned a survey to gauge public opinion about the proposals which revealed that of the 802 responses, 75 per cent thought a discount food store would improve shopping choice in the town.
Seventy-six per cent of respondees believed it would reduce the cost of food shopping locally, while 63 per cent said it would encourage them to shop in Ivybridge.
But among the many written objections to the plans was one from Caroline Jones of Bittaford who said: “Ivybridge already suffers with lack of parking provision, putting people off visiting the existing village - you are proposing to halve it.
“Where will the employees of the town let alone the clients, customers, tourists now park?
“If Aldi brings an addition 10,000 shoppers to the busy town every week, that is potentially 10,000 extra cars.
“Then there are the articulated lorries bringing stock at all hours of the day and night, coming through residential areas to get access.
“Pollution and noise will change the town and will be detrimental to those living on or by the roads.”
Paul Pring of Bittaford says the location of the proposed Aldi store is in the wrong place and hailed the disruption the building of it would cause “completely unacceptable”.
He added: “There are far better locations, which would not remove much of the town centre parking.
“This scheme has the ability to send several fragile businesses out of business.”
Georgia Jones of Buckfast Close, Ivybridge wrote: “The new car park is an eyesore in the middle of a moorland town which should be making the most of its natural beauty.
“The build and the increased traffic will have a negative impact on our quality of life. “Having an Aldi store is not worth the sacrifice.”
Rachel Graddon of The Pippins agreed: “You will be ruining the heart of our town (the river) by building a multi story carpark right next to it, and traffic in the area and access to the leisure centre will be hugely impacted.”
Hairdresser Joanne Shellis fears a negative impact on local traders.
“Closing the car park for six months will kill all trade in Ivybridge.
“I work in a hairdresser on Costly Street and where are my clients going to park? Many are elderly.”
Ian Barons of Woodland Road supported the application saying the store would be accessible to all.
He added: “When the car park is shut there are three other car parks available or, if possible, run a shuttle bus from the train station car park into the town for people who work there.
“If the people who say that the independent shops will suffer carry on supporting them like I will be, they will have no worries as I don’t need a car park to shop for a book or get some cake.
“In the current climate we all need to save as much as we can and a Aldi will help; the other food stores we locally have are all convenient stores and expensive.”
The district council says a new superstore could create up to 40 jobs locally and attract an extra 100 shoppers at any one time, who in turn could take advantage of the wider town, including the leisure centre and high street.
Janine Bristow of Park Street said she was “undecided” about the plans.
“Ivybridge has been working hard to create a fabulous high street and this building
development will ruin what is a great full high street,” she wrote.
“This is going to ruin a lot of people’s livelihoods.
“Additional parking needs to be arranged before this plan goes ahead.”
John Edward of Ivybridge was also puzzled as to whether to support the proposal or not.
Submitted and “undecided” letter to the plans, he wrote: “This development needs to be undertaken in a phased manner to ensure that at all times there is sufficient car parking available for both Ivybridge residents and visitors.
“Hopefully a study has also been carried out on how this new store will impact on the viability of the existing stores in the town - it would be very regrettable if the ‘competition’ from Aldi resulted in the loss of well-established local businesses. What would be done with anyresultant empty properties?
“Will the new store bring about regeneration or cause unintended consequences?”
In her response to the pre application document, district council planner Cheryl Stansbury said there was “slight concern” over the loss of public parking spaces in the town centre.
She said the plans are for a “sustainable brownfield site, allocation for regeneration in the Ivybridge Neighbourhood Plan,” and that the proposal is “broadly policy compliant.”
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