Members of the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee had been advised by officers to dismiss the application from the discount supermarket giant for the supermarket, in conjunction with five business units, on the Tweedbank Industrial Estate.
Councillors were informed that the proposed outlet would be five times the size of the Co-op store just five minutes drive away, could have a “devastating impact and a knock-on impact on Melrose footfall” and would lead to the loss of “valuable employment land within an established business park”.
But members also heard that that the supermarket bid had generated more than one hundred submissions of support – and only one objection, with no objections submitted from traders in Melrose.
After a lengthy debate support for the supermarket bid was indicated because of its “exceptional community benefits”.
But before a decision is finally rubber-stamped the applicant and planning officers need to come up with a jointly agreed plan to prevent any “negative impacts” on the local landscape.
Mid-Berwickshire Councillor Donald Moffat described go-ahead for the retail outlet as a “no-brainer” and a “win-win for the central Borders”.
He said: “Tweedbank is bigger than any town in Berwickshire and not to have a supermarket there is quite a big deficit to have.
“The amount of support there is from the local community and the local community council and the fact that there is only one objection from the whole area to me it’s a no-brainer that we really need something like this for residents in Tweedbank.
“It’s not only going to bring jobs but also will be a welcome facility for people to use.”
Hawick Councillor Clair Ramage was also supportive.
She said: “It’s important to note the support it has received locally and that there have been no objections from Melrose. Lidl is a low build and will fit in with the industrial units that are planned and I like the electric charging points that are proposed.”
Tweeddale West councillor Eric Small said: “We have just come through a pandemic. Times are hard for families and this opportunity will not come along too many times. I’m looking at it being cheaper for the families through food provisions. You can stop for petrol, you can charge your car and fill your shopping basket cheaper.”
The supermarket discount giant made its bid for a multi-million pound development near the Borders Railway terminus after Premier Inn dropped out.
It had been hoped a hotel could be part of the Borders Gateway project Tweedbank.