A LONG-STANDING DIY store in Ore will be knocked down to make way for a £5million supermarket after councillors gave plans the go-ahead this week.
B&Q, in Rye Road, is set to close next year after 35 years of trading and be replaced by an Aldi store.
The present building, dating back to the 1970s, will be demolished with the new supermarket expected to open in November 2014.
A new car park will also be provided with 70 parking spaces.
But some residents and traders in the area are against the changes, fearing another supermarket in Ore could kill off local trade in the village, as there are currently plans to turn the former Oddfellows Arms pub in Old London Road into a Tesco Express store.
Aubrey Ingleton, from Hastings and St Leonards Seniors’ Forum, set up a petition to protest against the scheme.
At the council’s planning meeting on Wednesday (September 11), he said: “B&Q, which has served the town for 35 years, has stated it would like to continue trading on the site and has 42 staff employed there.
“Ore is well-served with local shops and there are already proposals for a new Tesco Express store in the village. Across Britain the high street is in decline and 80 per cent of independent shops that have closed down have largely been due to the relentless rise of supermarkets.”
Mr Ingleton said the proposed Aldi supermarket will be ‘extremely close’ to a badger sett.
He added: “The application proposes a poorly designed industrial building and this will have a detrimental effect on the area. It’s not good enough for Ore.”
Aldi’s plans to build a new store on the B&Q site first became public in April when the firm held a pre-application development forum and outlined its proposals to residents.
In his report, Samuel Batchelor, planning officer for Hastings Borough Council, said as well as Mr Ingleton’s petition, 23 individual letters of objection were received by the authority about Aldi’s plans.
Objectors cited increased traffic congestion, loss of jobs at B&Q and impact on existing shops in Ore.
Roland Stanley, Aldi’s property director, said: “This is a multi-million pound investment into Ore with the building of a modern food store. Our company’s decision is to invest £5 million.”
He said Aldi has already bought the present site which houses B&Q and added the DIY store’s lease expired in June.
Mr Stanley said: “We have agreed that B&Q will stay in occupation until May next year rent-free, which gives it the chance to trade for Christmas and next Easter and give the company time to reallocate its staff.”
He said there was a ‘recognised shortfall’ of food provision in Ore, meaning people did not have the choice to do a weekly shop there so were shopping elsewhere in town.
Mr Stanley added: “Our store is not a massive supermarket, it’s a local one serving local people’s needs. It will not have an in-house bakery, sell newspapers, have a post office nor in-house pharmacy. We are here to complement existing trade and support the local shops, not compete.
“We are also creating between 30 and 40 new jobs.”
Mr Stanley said 1,200 leaflets were sent out by Aldi to residents in the area and added 76 per cent of those who responded were in favour of the firm’s proposals.
“We are committed to start construction in May 2014 and have the store open in November that year ready for Christmas,” he said.
Cllr Richard Street said: “The vast majority of people I have spoken to are very much in favour of this even though they are sorry to see the back of B&Q. Aldi has made a very convincing case and this is good news for Ore.”
Councillors voted unanimously to support the application.