The results of a public consultation, which asked whether an Aldi supermarket as part of a town regeneration scheme, would be welcomed in Ivybridge, have been praised as being detailed and thorough by South Hams District Council's Executive.

Ivybridge Regeneration Plans Visualisation shows a road leading towards an Aldi store with a car park in front of it.

The results of the survey say a resounding YES to the latest proposals - and the Council discuss how they want to proceed.

Plans to for a town regeneration scheme to drive footfall into Ivybridge have been in discussion for some time.  

The Council previously held conversations with the town and revised early plans to reflect ideas that the town suggested.  The new plans were presented in a public consultation that took place at the beginning of the year.  

To ensure that the consultation captured a true representation of the whole town, the consultation was split into two parts.  A postal survey sent to a representative number of households in Ivybridge and the surrounding areas, and an open to all online survey. 

The results of the two surveys did not differ greatly, and overall the Council is confident that the views expressed are those of a good proportion of the community across all age groups. Detailed analysis of the consultation can be found at www.southhams.gov.uk/ivybridge

Cllr Hilary Bastone, Deputy Leader for South Hams District Council, said: "This consultation is a good piece of work.  It has been well received by the town because it is part of an ongoing conversation and demonstrates that we are committed to working with Ivybridge to achieve the best outcome for everyone. 

"Even before the pandemic, the retail industry was facing extremely challenging times and this is going to be even harder in the coming weeks and months as businesses large and small struggle with their cash flow and an uncertain future.  The pandemic has made this scheme even more important and timely for the future of Ivybridge. 

"However, while I fully support this positive step in the journey of this project, we are still assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and so today, the Executive are recommending that we should move forward with this project, but in controlled steps.  

"This means delaying the key decision on this project until September and in the meantime carrying out further works on the proposals, such as progressing the planning documents, ecology and lease agreements. 

"This will place us in an even more informed position in September, when we will be asking the Council if they want us to move this project into the planning and contract tendering stage."

The Public Consultation results showed that over two thirds (69%) of respondents support the new supermarket proposals and 66% of respondents felt that a new supermarket would improve footfall into the town centre. 

There was also strong support for a short stay car park with 87% in favour of changing from the current long stay. 

Residents felt that they would increase their visits to the town centre if they were able to get an hour and a half of free parking to allow them to access the town's shops and businesses more easily. 

57% responded to say they would support out of centre parking for the 6% of people who work in the town. 

The results revealed that most shoppers drive to do their main, or top up, shop during the day, suggesting there would be a marked improvement to the economy of the town by those who would take advantage of the free parking opportunities.

Those who responded also felt that by improving the choice of shops, the cost of food shopping would be driven down in order to encourage people to shop locally. 

These results demonstrate that residents, and those living outside of the town, recognise the benefits of supporting regeneration and economic activity within Ivybridge's town centre.

South Hams acknowledge that the public consultation was undertaken before the pandemic and that shopping habits have changed. Aldi and Lidl say that they have seen an increase in trade and shopping in 'local' stores has also increased. 

The implication is that a local Aldi store would see even stronger demand now than before the pandemic, but the Council also says that shopping habits could also go back to pre-pandemic behaviour in time.

The full report can be found at: www.southhams.gov.uk/ivybridge.

 

Issued: 18 June 2020