Campaigners relieved but suspicious as Lidl withdraws Good Companions site application
JOY mixed with caution has followed a budget supermarket chain's withdrawal of plans for a supermarket on Warlingham's doorstep.
A huge campaign of opposition was mounted against the proposed Lidl store, which included a 519-name petition, mainly drawn from residents in Caterham, Warlingham and Whyteleafe.
The controversial scheme led to the demolition of the Good Companions pub in Limpsfield Road last November, with the intention of building a 1,323 sq m store with 68 car parking spaces.
The objections – raised at two heated public meetings and which saw the formation of a residents' protest group – included road dangers for the 2,000 pupils at nearby Warlingham School and Hamsey Green Primary School.
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But Lidl suddenly dropped its application on January 22. Relief among the store's opponents has, however, turned to suspicion, as the company said in a statement to the Mirror last week: "During the last few weeks Lidl has made some significant improvements to the scheme to address comments from both the council and local residents.
"We are still committed to bringing a Lidl store to the area and look forward to this next stage of consultation."
Ray Harper, who lives in Limpsfield Road, chaired the residents' action group.
He said: "I suspect this is only a small victory, actually being manipulated by Lidl.
"They will almost certainly re-apply at a point when they think it is appropriate, whether that is when they have the money or time or when they think the opposition has dulled.
"We must be prepared to object again whenever they do re-apply. We must not get complacent."
Mr Harper added: "We already have a Waitrose and a Sainsbury's within a mile on the same road as this proposed Lidl — we just don't need another supermarket."
Julie Shapland, the school lollipop lady, in adjoining Tithe Pit Shaw Lane, said: "At least two children have been in accidents in recent years."
But campaigner Alex Anderson issued a word of caution.
Writing on the Save The Good Companions Facebook page, he said: "This has been a good result, but be aware and be vigilant.
"If we can stop the next proposed plan, they have to go back to the drawing board."
Caroline Smith from Surrey County Council's transport development planning team said the traffic impact of the store at the end of the school day had not been fully outlined by Lidl.