Store wars as Aldi and Lidl both submit plans but residents in Sheffield suburb have a much bigger concern
Store wars have broken out in a Sheffield suburb with rival supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl both intending on building stores within a quarter of mile of each other.
Lidl has submitted a planning application to build a new supermarket on the site of a former church in Swallownest, while just a few hundred yards away Aldi has an area of land fenced off where it hopes to construct a store of its own.
And neither proposal has been without its objections as people living in this close-knit community make their views known.
Aldi said it intended to start work on its store on the corner of Park Hill and Swallow Wood Road this winter before opening to customers in winter 2020.
And Lidl has just dropped leaflets through the doors of people living near its site on Rotherham Road seeking neighbours’ views on their proposals, which would also see facilities at Swallownest Miners’ Welfare – the home of non-league Swallownest FC – improved.
Several residents have registered objections against the plans, with the most common reason being the impact on road safety in the Rotherham Road area.
One Aughton Road resident said: “I don’t feel this is an appropriate place for a supermarket.
“Bordering the site on three sides are a nursery, infant school and primary school.
“The crossing between the schools is just a zebra crossing and during the day children have to cross between the schools, at least every lunchtime, which would be a busy retail time.
“I am worried for the safety of children crossing with the extra traffic produced by this store.”
But in its application, Lidl said: “The proposal is seen to be an important economic benefit to the local surrounding area.
“The views of those in nearby residential properties have been carefully considered and will be carefully managed during the construction and end user phase, should planning permission be granted.
“The proposed elevations ensure a modern aesthetic is achieved that is both complementary and sympathetic to the surrounding areas while promoting an active retail frontage.”
Pulling together is something which comes natural in these parts, just off junction 31 of the M1 on the outskirts of both Sheffield and Rotherham.
When heavy snow left Aston and Swallownest pretty much cut off from the rest of South Yorkshire in 2010, the village's problems worsened when a tree fell onto and blocked Worksop Road - the main route in and out.
It completely blocked access to the M1 and A57 and meant emergency services, including firefighters at Aston Park station, couldn't use the road.
But, such is the strength of community in Aston, those living on Worksop Road donned their woolly hats, braved the freezing temperatures and almost as quick as the tree fell, they moved it off the road.
Jenny Shimwell, of Worksop Road, recalled: “Everybody came out and helped each other out and moved the tree.
“That’s the sort of people they are around here. If there is an issue, everyone comes together.”
But, aside from the supermarkets’ proposals and any inclement weather, those living in Aston and Swallownest have a much bigger fight on their hands that will really test their unity and resilience.
The village was left shocked when the re-think on the route of the high-speed rail link HS2 meant it would plough straight through Aston.
The Sheffield city centre route, which is now the preferred option, meant businesses, homes and those who own and live in them would be affected.
Under current proposals, the line would come into the village on a viaduct near Aston Bypass and cross through Aston Hall Cricket Club, Parklands Equestrian Centre and across Worksop Road.
Ms Shimwell, who helped set up the Stop HS2 Aston campaign group, said it would be ‘devastating’ for the village, as well as in neighbouring Aughton, Ulley and Swallownest, which all come together under the parish of Aston-cum-Aughton.
She said: “I honestly think there are people in the village who don't realise what the impact is going to be.
“I think people in Swallownest just think: ‘Thank goodness it’s not me’.
“I have had a lot of people say it’s not going to affect them but is because where is all the extra traffic going to go?”
As you approach the village from the M1, placards mark the spot where the line will cross as well as ‘Stop HS2’ banners on the entrance to Parklands.
Richard Sampson runs Parklands with his dad Sammy.
The family business, which hosted the Special Olympics in 2017, is located between Sammy’s house and that of dad-of-one Richard, who has spent thousands renovating it.
Both homes and the 41-year-old business would be bulldozed under HS2’s proposals.
The business employs around 20 people and includes a riding school and an indoor arena that allows it to open throughout the year.
Richard, 31, added: “People come in the shop and ask about it but it’s not as bad as it used to be – it’s gone past that stage.
“The business is doing well and that’s what makes it even more frustrating. On Sunday, the yard was full of cars, the shop was busy and I just stood back and thought that it could all be gone.”
Richard said he’d had a meeting with HS2 representatives who asked him if he was selling his house to the company to make way for the development.
He said: “They want to know if I’ll sell my house but when I asked them if the scheme was definitely happening they said they couldn’t say for definite.
“We’ve also got 70 horses in the stables and I asked what they wanted me to do with them and they didn’t have an answer.”
In a statement, HS2 said: “We recognise that people in Aston are concerned about the impacts of HS2 and we are committed to supporting them. Construction of the railway through South Yorkshire is not expected to start for at least five years, so there is no pressure on those whose property or land may be directly affected to make an immediate decision about if and when to sell.
“Every situation is unique and we continue to work closely with the local community as plans for the railway develop. We encourage people to contact us if they are unclear about their options.”