Mansfield’s iconic Rosemary Centre will be demolished and turned into a Lidl supermarket despite councillors raising concerns about the site’s heritage.
The district council’s planning committee approved plans for the Union Street site after a split vote at its meeting on Monday (April 24).
Four councillors voted to demolish the building and create the supermarket, with four voting against it and one member abstaining.
Councillor Bill Drewett (Mans Ind), the committee’s chairman, used his casting vote to approve the major redevelopment scheme.
It came despite councillors raising concerns about the planned demolition and the loss of one of the town’s most prominent buildings.
The Rosemary Centre has stood in its current form for about 70 years and applicant Peveril Securities said it had reached the “end of its natural life”.
It had recently housed stores such as Argos and Domino’s Pizza as well as a pharmacy before all stores closed and relocated elsewhere.
The only remaining outlet in the former shopping centre is Iceland.
However, Monday’s meeting was told the business is relocating to its existing Food Warehouse store at St Peter’s Retail Park.
The building has also been on the open market for about five years and has not been successfully sold.
Speaking as he gave his casting vote, committee chairman Cllr Drewett said: “I’m using my vote mainly due to the fact it has been marketed for five years with no takers and there’s vegetation growing on the roof.
“I will go with officer recommendations to grant approval.”
The decision led to some groans in the council chamber, both from members of the committee and the public gallery.
It followed concerns about the building’s demolition and calls for the building to be reused for other purposes.
Alongside the Lidl, a fast food takeaway unit will be created – with some concerns raised about an over-concentration of unhealthy food in the town.
Once complete, the development will be directly across from the new Domino’s Pizza, Tim Hortons and Taco Bell units on the old bus station site.
Other councillors called for a site visit to discuss the potential traffic impact on Union Street, where the major new Lidl store will be accessed for deliveries.
Further concerns were raised about the project and the loss of a historic building to create a “shed” for Lidl.
And Cllr Teresa Hanstock (Mans Ind), who represents Sherwood, said: “It’s truly ugly in comparison to what’s there at the minute.
“That aside, I understand it has been empty for a long time – decades.
“But my biggest concern is the number of lorries delivering on a very small access street. I don’t know if I can support it.”
Cllr Ann Norman (Lab), who represents the Park Hall ward, added: “We’ve already got rid of a lot of our historic buildings and it’s very sad.”
Their comments followed concerned resident Glynis Richardson, who also raised fears about the site’s heritage.
She said: “I’m passionate about this building because it’s the heritage of Mansfield.
“In the past, we’ve demolished too many of our heritage buildings and this is an iconic, majestic industrial building, now with a proposal to demolish it for a supermarket and yet another fast food outlet.”
A spokesperson for the applicant told councillors the plans will bring a significant boost to the town.
This includes £5m from construction and about 30 construction jobs, 72 new roles through the supermarket and takeaway, and about £20m of extra ‘convenience spending’ in the nearby town centre.
A new roundabout junction will be created off Walkden Street to access the development, which will feature about 150 car parking spaces.