Battle of wills over new Leeds Aldi store’s opening hours...but locals have last word

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Cut-price supermarket giant Aldi has won permission for a new store in a Leeds suburb, bringing with it 50 new jobs for the area.

But the permission didn’t come without a fight - as bosses found themselves embroiled in a lengthy battle of wills with locals over opening hours.

A Leeds City Council planning panel was told that though people living in and around Marsh Street in Rothwell welcomed the principle of the supermarket, the proposed 10pm opening hours cut-off would be hugely disruptive to families in the largely residential location.

A number of speakers pleaded with the supermarket to reconsider the later hours.

There were claims that a 9pm closing had already been agreed by the firm at a community consultation, however during a lengthy debate, Mark Taylor, Aldi’s property director for Yorkshire and the North East, denied this was the case.

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He told one speaker, local Labour councillor Karen Bruce, that she had got “confused and muddled up”, and the applied for hours always were and remained 8am to 10pm.

He said the later hours were needed for the firm to “be competitive” and insisted an earlier agreement to reduce the cut off from 11pm to 10pm had proved that “we are a business that is willing to listen”.

Coun Bruce had earlier presented the panel with details of a letter which she claimed prove that an agreement had been reached over reduced hours.

She said the community in general welcomed the opportunity for jobs, choice and cheaper prices but said much of the support garnered for the application had been “under false pretences” and the firm had “gone back on their word”.

The packed meeting at Leeds Civic Hall was told there had been 49 letters of support for the application and 30 against it.

In the end it was locals who had the last word, as Mr Taylor, presented with - in his own words - a “take it or leave it” option, agreed to the earlier cut-off.

The panel approved the application with the revised 9pm closing time and other conditions relating to parking limits, lights shut-off and engagement with people living in the immediate area.