A discount supermarket’s bid to expand its booze offering at a new store under construction has been rejected by city licensing chiefs.
Lidl had been granted permission to sell alcohol from its new Craigie store – set to open on February 20 next year – after making an application early last year.
However, it applied to Dundee City Council again earlier this year seeking permission to expand the offering in order to, it claimed, offer its “full range” of alcohol.
The city’s licensing board has refused the application, however, after store representatives failed to demonstrate they would not further contribute to alcohol-related harm in the city – and thus contravened the city’s strict overprovision policy.
Lidl rep Andrew Hunter, a solicitor with Harper MacLeod, asked councillors for leniency on the grounds that the store would not create “additional harm” – because it wasn’t open yet.
He said: “When the store was first planned it was first planned as a limited range store but it will now be restructured because of an evolution in the way shelving in Lidl works so it can be a full range store.
“This application isn’t unique to Dundee – I have recently been before licensing boards in Fife and South Lanarkshire.
“The reality is that if this application were to be refused the logical conclusion for Lidl is that we didn’t aim high enough in the first place.”
Mr Hunter claimed that the proportion of shop floor space offered to booze would be just 4.9% for most of the year, growing to 5.56% around Christmas time – around half of that offered by the “big four” supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda.
However, Dr Emma Fletcher, public health consultant with NHS Tayside, said: “I can see no reason why this should be increased. Lidl is not contributing to harm currently but when they open it will do.
“There is clear evidence that availability leads to increased consumption and increased harm.”
Lidl’s previous application was granted before the new overprovision policy came into effect.
Licensing convener Stewart Hunter (no relation) said he was unconvinced by Lidl’s arguments.
He said: “I’m not convinced or persuaded that there are exceptional circumstances to put aside the overprovision policy so I will be moving to refuse the application.”
A Lidl spokeswoman said: “We are naturally disappointed with the planning committee’s decision. Our existing license means we can still offer great value, high quality beers, wines and spirits to local customers.
“The purpose of the application was to offer an even wider range to the community, whilst honouring our commitment to selling alcohol responsibly.
“We will be reviewing our proposals and will update the local community on next steps in due course.”