A BIKE company has been forced to vacate its Taunton base of more than 20 years after Aldi reportedly brought up a large swathe of land in the town.

The Bicycle Chain is now urgently seeking change of use planning permission to relocate from Chip Lane to Priory Bridge Road.

Aldi has applied for permission to build a new supermarket on Chip Lane, where it has bought a plot housing four work units.

The Bicycle Chain has now applied to Somerset West and Taunton Council for permission to operate out of the former HSS tool hire premises close to the Cooper Associates County Ground.

A statement with the application says: "Our landlord has now sold the whole Chip Lane site to Aldi for a new supermarket forcing us to find a new site and we have a lease that expires on July 15."

The bike firm, which employs 50 staff and also has branches in Bridgwater, Weston-super-Mare, Yeovil and Hereford, plans to make Taunton its head office.

If the council approves the proposal, the Priory Bridge Road site would contain a showroom, repair and maintenance workshop and offices.

And two additional members of staff are likely to be taken on to develop the sale of bicycles via the internet.

The statement added: "Our proposal for the new Taunton site will be to offer continued employment for ten people which will rise as our online sales grow.

"We will also bring in for meetings our management team that currently work from their homes and develop a training facility for all our employees.

"The floor area will be divided up into a full workshop repair and servicing department with storage for waiting and completed bicycles.

"We see, especially driven by e-bikes, the service department becoming much larger and potentially employing up to six personnel."

The application says the Bicycle Chain needs to find new premises "urgently" in order to enable the business to continue uninterrupted trading in Taunton.

Aldi, which already has a store in Bathpool, submitted a planning application in July last year to build a supermarket on the Chip Lane site, where a car dealership and a bed store were also sited.

In another development, Tesco has in the past week written to the council opposing the Aldi plans, voicing fears that it could hit other supermarkets already in the town.