The permit issued to build a new Lidl supermarket on the outskirts of Żebbuġ has irked the locality’s community, with many residents questioning the need for it when another outlet from the same chain lies less than five kilometres away.
On Thursday, the Planning Authority approved a permit for the Lidl supermarket chain to expand its operations after it was satisfied with changes to the designs to reduce the take-up of land outside the development zone.
When the plans for the supermarket were first unveiled in 2019, the Żebbuġ council and non-governmental organisations had formally objected to the plans.
The 14,000-square-metre site lies between Mdina Road and Attard Road, outside the development zone.
Times of Malta is informed that despite the PA’s approval, the council stands by its objection, which had at the time flagged traffic congestion as the biggest issue.
Residents said they need a green lung not more supermarkets
Residents who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were mostly concerned about the increase in traffic in the area.
One resident pointed out that the nearby Lidl Qormi outlet is “less than five kilometres away”, just a 10-minute drive from the earmarked Żebbuġ one.
Another resident, who runs a small daily goods shop nearby, said that although she did not expect the opening of the new Lidl supermarket to impact business from regulars, she still envisaged a drop in sales.
“We’ve seen this every single time a new supermarket or any convenience store opened up close by. There are always days when fewer people come to us for their daily needs,” the shop owner said.
Other residents on social media groups said the locality desperately needed “a green lung” and not more supermarkets, especially since there is already another supermarket just a few metres down the road from the new Lidl.
The Planning Authority last year suspended a decision on the application and instructed the applicant to address a number of issues, including the reduction of ODZ land take-up and to make the project more sensitive to its surroundings.
When the planning board met to discuss the matter on Thursday, it noted that all the issues raised had been addressed by the applicant, including the removal of parking spaces, which had been proposed parallel to the road from the roundabout leading to Attard.