Controversial plans to build a new Aldi in Wolverton could be taken behind closed doors, councillors were told.
The planning application for the 1,916 sq m store on the site of the Herald Snooker Club, in Mcconnell Drive, has been in Milton Keynes Council’s system since April 4, 2018.
Planning agent Dan Templeton, on behalf of Aldi Stores, told last week’s meeting of the development control committee that, because of the level of public interest and support, it would be necessary and appropriate for the application to be determined at the committee.
But Tracy Darke, the council’s service director of growth, economy, and culture, said the council’s officers could make a delegated decision behind closed doors because “there isn’t a siginificant level of interest.”
She revealed that the “application is likely to be refused.”
She said there had been 12 letters in support and one letter of objection, with the town council supporting the plan.
But Mr Templeton said: “Whilst I appreciate that there might not be the level of direct representation on this application it does raise very significant issues for the future of the Agora Centre that officers are very alive to and I think it is only right and proper that the application should be considered by an elected member group.”
However, one of the objections comes from campaigning group Future Wolverton, which was established in 2013 and has 250 members, including local residents and businesses.
An objection logged on MK Council’s planning portal reads: “Future Wolverton objects to this application because it is an out of town centre development that will undermine current, attempts to revitalise Wolverton Town Centre.
“It is clearly in breach of the Wolverton Town Centre Neighbourhood Plan and local and national planning policy. There are also significant highways issues which have not been properly considered, which will make an already dangerous junction even more hazardous.”
Cllr John Bint questioned how the issue could be dealt with at the committee. He said: “We have the opportunity to have that debate if it comes here and we don’t have the opportunity to have that debate if it gets handled as a delegated decision.”
Cllr Keith McLean, who chairs the committee, said there were clear procedures for referring planning applications for determination at the Development Control Committee.