100 new jobs are set to be created after plans for a new development in Crewe were approved.
A Lidl supermarket, B&M store and coffee shop are now set to be built on land off Mill Street.
Councillors went against the advice of officers to approve plans for the site about a lack of green space and poor cycle links..
The committee also gave ‘outline’ approval for up to 70 affordable homes from Trafford Housing Trust to be built on the site – with concrete design proposals set to come back to CEC at a later date.
Officers had called for the scheme to be rejected due to the design being ‘car-dominated’, with a lack of green space, poor cycle links into town and insufficient reference to the area’s railway heritage.
But urging the committee to approve the plans, Councillor Dorothy Flude, Labour member for Crewe South, said: “This council set a precedent on its own attitude towards genuine heritage.
“I refer to the council’s Lifestyle Centre – a shed with some green plastic cladding and a few bricks, built in the town centre with no reference to our proud railway history.
“The residents in the area of this planned development are sick and tired of living in a den of drug dealing, alcohol misuse and fly-tipping.
“Many report a fear of walking in the surrounding streets at night – and that should be of concern to you all.”
Both Cordwell, the firm behind Crewe’s proposed Royal Arcade redevelopment, and Asda suggested that the development would harm the existing town centre’s viability – but the site was already allocated for retail use in CEC’s local plan.
A similar scheme was rejected last February, and Robert Hepwood – representing applicant Clowes Developments – suggested his client was ‘losing patience’ after a lack of progress in talks with CEC officers.
He said: “You have an opportunity today to take a decision that would deliver the redevelopment of this site, and in so doing will clean it up, create over 100 new jobs and provide 70 much-needed affordable homes.
“Lidl, B&M and Trafford Housing are quality companies who do things right. They invest in local communities, and look after their employees and residents.”
Opening the debate, Councillor Jill Rhodes, Labour, said: “I have to agree that the development does not reflect the CEC design guide.
“It is a commercial building and the design certainly reflects that.
“However, it is just like the buildings that are still currently on-site. This has long been a commercial area.”
But Councillor Andrew Kolker, Conservative, insisted that the support of the scheme from Crewe Town Council should not be ignored.
Councillor Sarah Pochin, Conservative, added: “Why are we not listening to local people and local politicians when they support this?
“Overall I think we would be crazy, to be honest, not to approve this today. This can be tweaked to be acceptable, and it has so many benefits that we must embrace it.”
Conservative Councillor John Wray, chairman of the southern planning committee, gave the casting vote in favour of the development after the 10-strong board’s vote was split.