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Lidl Shows Signs of Amnesia ... and worries us all

Agreed 'Design Principles & Solution' Flouted as Lidl Seeks to Enter the Housing Market

56 x 1 bedroom flats most at less than 100,000 each is the proposal that Lidl is floating before the Planning Committee of East Lothian Council under Application 07/01142/FUL. This it suggests is a great bargain in exchange for the demolition of the town's last remaining operational building from its industrial heyday. But is it really?

Prestonpans, Wallyford and the promised Blindwells are already set to add some 7000 new homes to the southern borders and these can readily accommodate such affordable flats as may be needed.

But there is a much more significant point to be made about Lidl's current approach. They are giving backword.

When Lidl successfully re-applied for planning consent [after initial rejection], which re-application gave us the store we gladly have today, their consultants Hargest & Wallace made wholly explicit the Design Principles adopted. They made no suggestion whatever that the old Fowler's HQ should or might be demolished and flats built in its place. Quite the contrary. They argued in May 2004 for the Planning Consent they subsequently received as follows - and we quote exactly:

"Design Solution

4.8 ....Retention of the existing Coeval building within the application site.

4.9 .... The street scene would be enhanced through the positioning of the building on the existing building line and through the retention of the Coeval building."

N.B. This retention of the Coeval building was specifically confirmed by ELC's Development Planning Manager June 15th 2004 as he concurred that the Hargest & Wallace Design Principles and Solution "complied with the policy requirements of East Lothian Council Local Plan 2000'].

So, is there a severe case of amnesia at Lidl? Or was it always their strategic intention to wait awhile, allow the old Fowler's / Coeval building to deteriorate on their watch [as they have], offer it for sale as a commercial property [as they did in 2006] and then fnally come up with a far more profitable solution via housing development?

The Campaign to Save the Old Fowler's HQ Wont Go Away!

As by now almost everyone in town knows, the Arts Festival and Fowler's Ales have been running a two year campaign to get the old Fowler's HQ Listed. Lately they have collected enough signatures from local electors to ask the Scottish Government to register the 'Community Right To Buy' from Lidl. Their absolute determination arises from their decade long commitment to tell the town's proud history out aloud on murals, in sculpture and totem poles, in restored buildings like The Goth [and Yes the Old Fowler's HQ], and through poetry and music and plays. In this way much has been achieved in assisting the continuing regeneration of the town's self esteem as it addresses the challenge to integrate thousands of commuting incomers in the years ahead.

The Campaigners, joined as would surely be expected by local CAMRA members, request and require that Lidl are not allowed to demolish the old Fowler's HQ. It should remain standing and in continuing use. One and all now await with fascination just precisely what decisions the Planning Committe in Haddington, Historic Scotland and the Scottish Government will take. Are they for or against the expressed wishes of the local community? Simple question really. Clearly Lidl is against the community, but are the politicians?

click on Edinburgh Evening News cutting to enlarge

from the Arts Festival Directorate and Fowler's Ales.

Published Date: January 8th 2008

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