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Plans for new Lidl supermarket to be constructed near Watford despite congestion concerns

Lidl can build a new supermarket next to the A41 despite fears shoppers will clog up the road.

The German multinational has plans for a new building at the World of Water pond and aquarium shop, next to the M25 Hunton Bridge interchange near Watford.

Lidl’s team promised the development would be “a high-quality retail building that is sustainable, improves the setting of the local area and benefits the local community”.

But according to the plans, shoppers coming from Hemel Hempstead and the north would have to turn right across the A41 into the car park.

Customers leaving the shop towards Watford and the Hunton Bridge roundabout would also need to turn right across a lane of traffic.

Hertfordshire County Council’s highways team – which looks after the A41 – and National Highways – responsible for the M25 – both said the application could proceed.

Three Rivers District Council asked independent consultants at Evoke to look at the developers’ highways proposals and the authorities’ studies.

They found the design is “generally compliant” with design standards.

The right-turn lane into the proposed supermarket site meets “the minimum requirements for a 30mph design speed”.

At a Three Rivers District Council planning committee meeting on Thursday, March 14, councillors agreed to grant permission for the application, based on evidence that the authority had gathered.

Councillor Jon Tankard (LD, Leavesden), who does not sit on the planning committee but attended as a community advocate, said his colleagues were “quite literally running out of road”.

He said: “We have a number of desktop studies which suggest this would work.

“Knowing that junction quite well, I am quite sceptical that it won’t cause hold-ups coming off the roundabout and crossing into the site.

“I appreciate many of the items have gone through an approval process, but I would like to raise the issue.”

Committee member Cllr Matthew Bedford (LD, Abbots Langley and Bedmond), described the A41 as a “very busy, very major road”.

He said: “I certainly have severe misgivings about the access and about the right-turns into the site and the right-turns out of the site, both of which have to cross the A41.”

Three Rivers planning officers said Hertfordshire County Council, which is responsible for highways, can use its legal powers to demand changes to the junction in the future if it becomes the cause of problems such as delays or incidents.

No committee member put forward a reason to refuse the application.

Cllr Steve Drury (LD, Durrants) moved to grant planning permission, subject to legal agreements being signed off on, which should include a £16,800 contribution for highways, cycleways and sustainable transport improvements.

He said council staff must consider a suggestion that goods vehicles should not cross the A41 and instead make left-turns only into and out of the site, using nearby roundabouts to turn around.

“I’m still very unhappy about the access in total, but the permission itself I’m quite happy to propose,” Cllr Dury said.

He added he made his proposal “reluctantly”.

Two councillors voted to grant planning permission, with five abstentions.

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