DISCOUNT supermarket Lidl is looking to buy a council car park in Taunton to provide more space for shoppers to leave their cars free of charge.

The company claims its store in Castle Street is losing customers due to the limited number of parking spaces attached to the store.

It wants to convert neighbouring Tangier Car Park, owned by Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT), into a private car park, along with a trolley bay and electric vehicle charging point.

Lidl would then extend its store car park to create 117 bays for its customers.

A planning application submitted to SWT says: "Since the opening of the Lidl store on Castle Street, which replaced a former store on Wood Street, the new store has proven to be very popular with customers.

"This popularity has resulted in issues arising with the function of the existing car park, which can frequently be filled to capacity and require customers to park in the neighbouring pay and display Tangier public car park.

"As a result, customer complaints have been received about the insufficient availability of parking spaces, including accessible and parent and child spaces, the obligation to pay for parking if forced to use the

adjoining public car park and the physical difficulties in returning shopping trolleys to the trolley park from the public car park.

"Lidl is aware that these issues have encouraged customers to shop elsewhere at stores with a more plentiful supply of customer parking.

"It is, therefore, proposed to increase the number of car parking spaces that are available free of charge to Lidl customers by delivering an extension to the store car park on to the adjoining Tangier public car park."

Lidl says the proposals are unlikely to lead to a shortage of public pay and display options as there are a number of facilities in the area.

Its customers will be able to park for free for up to 90 minutes, as is currently the case in its existing car park.

The application adds: "The council, as landowner, has now made the land available to Lidl to support the function of the Lidl store.

"The amalgamation of the car park extension with the existing Lidl car park will require a package of modest physical works to be undertaken in order to segregate the extended Lidl car park from the remaining public parking outside the application site, and to ensure that Lidl’s customers are able to move between the store and car park in a safe manner.

"These works will comprise the installation of raised kerbs within the car park to create a physical boundary along its north eastern edge.

"A freestanding trolley bay will also be erected within the car park extension so that customers do not need to return shopping trolleys to the existing trolley park adjacent to the store entrance.

"A row of five existing parking spaces within the Lidl car park will be removed in order to create an access into the car park extension from the site access/existing car park, with ground levels being altered to

provide a suitable transition.

"A further four existing parking spaces will be re-laid out in order to accommodate two electric vehicle charging spaces."