Construction at Hornchurch Lidl almost complete despite two month setback over mystery £1m underground cable
PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 October 2017
A Recorder reporter donned a hard hat and high-vis jacket on Friday when he got a guided tour of the works currently underway at Hornchurch’s new Lidl store.
Reporter Matt Clemenson joined Hornchurch councillors John Mylod and Reg Whitney on a tour of the site, guided by site manager Doug Higson.
Contractors are expected to finish construction work at the High Road site by January 11, when Lidl will begin fitting out the store, hopefully in time for the shop’s provisional opening date of February 8.
The budget supermarket chain originally hoped to get the store open in time for Christmas, but the discovery of a £1million electrical cable less than three feet below the ground at the site has led to a delay of around two months.
Worryingly, the cable, which it is believed feeds electricity to homes and businesses throughout the Romford area, had not been on any surveyors maps before work began.
Mr Higson said: “If we pierce it or damage it at all, it’s going to cost £1m to replace, and we were told it would cost us £1.3m to lower it, so instead we’ve decided to raise the building, which is why we’ve had some delays.
“It’s a set back, but these things can happen.”
Both Cllr Mylod and Cllr Whitney supported Lidl opening at the site, which was the centre of a campaign to preserve the historic Towers Cinema building throughout last year.
In a nod to the site’s heritage, the Towers lettering has been preserved during the building’s demolition, and will proudly be displayed in front of the new building.
Cllr Whitney told the Recorder the creation of a new supermarket on that end of the High Street had been the best option in front of the council. He said: “The stark choice was an investment into the high street by someone like Lidl who could support businesses and hopefully regenerate the high street, or another block of flats, that would have helped the borough meet its housing target, but wouldn’t have helped us in terms of keeping the high street thriving.”
And Mr Higson, who has just finished an identical Lidl building in Penzance, Cornwall, revealed he has already seen the effect the stores can have on the local economy.
He said: “The one we’ve just finished down in Penzance now has people queueing up in their 200 space car park and it has totally changed that high street for the better.”