CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new Lidl supermarket in Eastwood have been thrown out by councillors – by a single vote.

Southend Council’s development control committee turned down the proposal, for a large store on the corner of Progress Road and Rayleigh Road, by seven votes to six.

Planners had recommended refusal for the plans, suggesting the store would be out of keeping with the surrounding area.

The new store would have replaced the derelict former Safestore warehouse and part of Essex Timber and Plywood’s neighbouring yard, creating 40 jobs. But it would have meant the closure of the timber yard with the loss of 14 jobs.

After the vote, Essex Timber and Plywood’s owner, Ray Clarke, said: “We are very happy for our customers and for builders in the area.

“People know what service they are going to get with us and that is proper advice.”

During the debate, Chris Walker (Con, Eastwood Park) claimed 15 shops near the site would suffer if the Lidl store opened. He said: “Local shops cannot make a living selling cigarettes, newspapers and a few sweets, so they sell groceries, too.

“They are still struggling now, so a new supermarket would not be a good idea.”

The council turned down previous supermarket plans for the site, hoping rival plans for a mini-business park plan would keep industrial jobs on the site.

Lidl’s planning agent Nick Hardy spoke at the meeting, highlighting the fact 210 people had written, supporting the scheme, while just 83 letters of objection had been received Ted Lewin (Lib Dem, St Laurence) backed Lidl, which had pledged to give the council £25,000 to help redesign the Progress Road/Rayleigh Road junction to ease traffic problems.

He said: “Many residents want to see Lidl in there and are very upset at the refusal.

“It is only on grounds of design.

“Visually, opposite the site is nothing but a load of brick, so I would suggest the design of the Lidl is much more acceptable.”

Fellow councillors Mike Assenheim and Ron Woodley, also backed the plan and voted in favour.