PLANS have been submitted for an Aldi supermarket in Ecclesfield in a deal involving the relocation of a long-established engineering business.
The discount supermarket chain is looking for council permission to redevelop the site of Rollem at the corner of The Common and Mill Road, with the firm moving to bigger and more modern premises in the area.
Aldi says it wants to give more choice to local shoppers in a development that would create 25 to 30 supermarket jobs – Rollem envisages it would be able to offer another 60 jobs – and that would include a car park to be shared by its customers and other visitors to the Ecclesfield centre.
But the issue of traffic is especially contentious, with one objector already predicting “mayhem” if the Aldi is built. And there are concerns that “Ecclesfield does not need another supermarket”.
Details of the scheme have been submitted to the city council by Aldi and Rollem after a public consultation exercise last March indicated a 50-50 split in opinion.
Consultants say: “The proposed Aldi will redevelop this prominent site, providing an extension to the local centre and a shared car park to be used by Aldi customers and visitors to the local centre.” A “high quality” design and “a visual improvement” are being promised.
Rollem, which was formed 82 years ago and has been in Ecclesfield for 65 years, now employing 40 staff, is an engineering company that specialises in print finishing equipment.
It is proposing to lease its site to Aldi and to relocate, but not too far so that local expertise is retained. “We have got three or four places in mind but we are not moving out of the area,” said co-owner Colin Pears.
“It’s important we move. This building is not only in a bad state of repair but it is not conducive to the type of equipment we are building these days. If we can move to a purpose-built site it will allow us to improve the way we run our business, to be more efficient and to create jobs.
“We can’t afford to go anywhere without this deal being in place. This is the catalyst for our expansion.”
Mr Pears added that the proposed development would improve the appearance of the area.
“Having been in the area for many years, I can say we are not the prettiest thing to look at in Ecclesfield. If I lived with a view of the site, I know what I’d be rather looking at.”
Already a 111-name petition has been submitted to the city council, warning of the impact on existing traders and the potential for an increase in traffic and noise and air pollution.
Early reaction to the application includes an objection from a resident of The Common who says: “I cannot understand why Ecclesfield and its neighbouring community needs another supermarket.
“We have a Morrison’s which is within five minutes walk of the proposed site, in the village we have a Co-op, and Asda are also building a megastore within a 15-minute walk of Ecclesfield, which is creating jobs for the local community. There is also a large Asda in Chapeltown. Furthermore there is a Tesco Exopress in Chapeltown and a Lidl on Halifax Road.”
Another objector says: “The Common cannot cope with the additional traffic this would bring. Ecclesfield Common is a very busy road as it is. This would cause significant day-long problems.”
Planning application: 11/01426/FUL.