BUDGET supermarket Lidl has been given the green light for a Workington store despite an eleventh-hour plea from Tesco to halt the scheme.

The German-based discount giant will build on a patch of riverside scrubland cheek-by-jowl with the rival British supermarket chain, which opened its Workington branch in the late 80s.

But a last-minute plea that arrived on the morning of the meeting to determine the application urged officers to pull it from the agenda amid claims the development would have a “negative effects” on Workington trade.

Tesco also told Allerdale’s planning department that Lidl’s application was “deficient in a number of respects” and that they should be given more time to work on the plans – a request that officers and councillors rejected.

The supermarket chain had also asked why the applicant had not undertaken a household survey to establish shopping habits and claimed surveys had “underestimated” the impact the scheme would have on town centre turnovers

But speaking on behalf of Lidl, Richard Huteson, of Rapleys planning consultants, told the planning panel that the store would bring a “number of benefits” to Workington including investment, 40 new jobs and “improved shopping choice”.

The town council had also objected to the plans on the grounds of the potential impact on town centre trade, with one other objection from another retailer.

But council officers said that the retail studies had been comprehensive – and that the Lidl plans were also the subject of an independent review, which concluded that they would not hit town centre trade.

Councillor Peter Kendall was among the most enthusiastic advocates for the scheme on the panel based on the success of its outlet in Maryport.

He said: “It’s good service; good retail provision for Workington; and I believe it’s a catalyst for retail growth; bring it on.”

But fellow Labour councillor Janet Farebrother raised several concerns over the effect on wildlife and the local ecology.

Officers reassured members that the site was outside the environmental protection area which is starts further upstream.

Planning chief Steve Long added that there were with no protected species living nearby, with the “possible exception” of foraging otters.

Lidl has also pledged to keep a six Swedish whitebeam trees at the front of the site which are have additional protection through a tree preservation order also agreed today.

And the plans will not encroach on a coastal footpath that runs along the edge of the river, stopping short of it.

Coun Ron Munby mentioned the floods of 2009 which swept away the original Northside Bridge yards from the development site.

He asked if the site was likely to be affected by climate change which “could be a factor here, like it or not”.

But he was told that the Environment Agency were satisfied with the location, with Mr Long describing the flood as an “extreme event”.

Three other sites in the Workington area had been mooted for the store including the central carpark, the Royal British Legion and the Cloffocks area.

But the strongest town centre contender, the central carpark, was ruled because of a covenant restricting the sale of alcohol which would hit trade and affect the viability of the scheme.

The Lidl plans will include a new access road, pedestrian crossing and slip road for cars turning onto the carpark.