“The right idea in the wrong place”
Plans to redevelop an area of Ivybridge have met with resistance as some locals say there is no need for a new supermarket and that it will take business away from smaller shops.
In recent years, South Hams District Council has considered proposals to bring more shoppers to the market town by developing the Leonards Road car park, including a discount food store.
The area behind Ivybridge town hall has been earmarked for redevelopment with plans for a new Aldi supermarket there.
The council commissioned a survey to investigate public opinion about the proposals for the new supermarket in March 2020.
It was estimated that an Aldi investment in this project would be £21 million over 25 years.
This was in addition to the initial construction costs invested by the council of around £9 million.
Tony Dommett has lived in Ivybridge for 42 years and says his family have been in Devon since 1540 or earlier. He took to social media to express his concerns about the changes in Ivybridge and has since gathered many comments of support.
In an interview, Mr Dommett summed up his feelings.
“Basically it’s the right idea in the wrong place, like most things have been done over the last 20, 30 years,” he said.
“You’re going to take out the centre of Ivybridge. “The whole heart of the village is going to disappear under a huge supermarket, two-storey car park, which will be used by the supermarket.
“There’ll be no long-term parking. Most of the local businesses, not necessarily the shops, but the other small businesses that have offices in or around the centre of Ivybridge won’t have any parking.
“It is totally going to rip up the centre of town which should be regenerated.”
Mr Dommett added that more should be done around the waterfront area where the River Erme flows through the town.
Several written objections to the new supermarket were also received by the council and are included in the planning application.
One objector says: “I do not believe the Aldi will improve the vibrancy of the town rather it will detract.
“The town has actually improved in the last two years of the pandemic, with people rediscovering the pleasures of shopping locally and particularly enjoyed the variety of independent shops.
“The offer in the town has in fact improved in that time, with the opening of the bookshop and the florist and the brewing company.
“I cannot see that people who drive to shop in the Aldi will be likely to then visit the other towns shops and cafes.”
Another objection focuses on the location of the Aldi store and fears it may coincide with the replacement of the rotting wooden Northern Bridge, which connects Glanvilles Mill to the nearby car park.
“Whilst some residents of Ivybridge have indicated that they would like to see another supermarket in the town, the car park is not the place for it to be sited,” the complaint says.
“I am told that the site has been allocated for the supermarket within the new housing development at the top of Exeter Road and this would be far more suitable.
“Closing the car park for at least six months would cause many local businesses to fold even if they manage to survive the closure of both bridges across the river into the town from the car park.”
The council says the new store could create 30 to 40 jobs 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.