AN APPLICATION to build a new Aldi superstore in Barnoldswick has been rejected over concerns it would have a negative impact on town centre shops.

Planning Inspector Robin Brooks dismissed an appeal by developer Mark Taylforth, of Pendle Projects Ltd, who wanted to build a 1,472 square metre discount supermarket at the site of the former Gas Works Yard, off Skipton Road.

Mr Brooks also raised the potential impact a new supermarket would have on the ‘fragile qualities’ of existing town centre shops.

In making his decision to uphold the West Craven area committee’s refusal, Mr Brooks said: “Of particular concern is that the appeal proposal and a (Albert Hartley) proposal on the Crownest Mill site could together establish what would be in effect a separate or alternative shopping centre on Skipton Road.

“The two new stores could operate in a complementary manner which might be to their advantage, but to the detriment of the town centre.

“A good number of customers would probably consider it no longer necessary to visit the town centre on a regular basis with predictable consequences for footfall there.

“I give particular weight to National Planning Policy Framework guidance on supporting the vitality and viability of town centres as the heart of their communities.

“Planning permission has already been granted for one major retail proposal on Skipton Road and in my view to add another there, albeit of a different scale and offer, would run counter to this guidance.

“In essence I believe that safeguarding the future of the town centre as a whole should take precedence over limited, though real, enhancement of part of the conservation area.”

Coun David Whipp, chairman of the West Craven area committee, said: “We’re pleased the decision locally has been confirmed by the Government inspector. Clearly, this is an issue where the town is divided.

“The issue that local councillors were most concerned about was the cumulative impact of two new stores opening in the town centre.

“Our judgment was backed by the inspector who came to the same view that their combined impact would be undesirable.”

Neil Watson, Pendle Council’s planning and building control manager, said: “While we want to encourage development in Pendle, sometimes harmful impacts outweigh the benefits, and unfortunately this is one of those cases.”