Shoppers keen to cut their food bills as the cost-of-living crisis continues will have to wait a little longer for the Lidl supermarket in Alton to open.

It is on the new £5.6 million Mill Lane Retail Park development, which was originally scheduled to open in February this year. 

But the finished Lidl store remains fenced off amid rumours in the town about when it is going to start welcoming customers.

A Lidl spokesperson told the Herald the matter was out of the company’s hands.

They said: “Timescales for completion are dependent on the wider development, so we would point you to the developers for more details on timings and ongoing works being carried out.”

Developer Hargreaves Properties Limited said: “We are currently working with Hampshire County Council and East Hampshire District Council to finalise highway works at the new retail park with a view to our tenants opening their doors in winter 2023.”

East Hampshire’s planning permission includes highways conditions stipulated by the county council.

Work began on June 19 to construct a new access road, upgrade routes for pedestrians and cyclists, and install traffic lights at the junction of Mill Lane and Montecchio Way, and is expected to continue until August 21.

An East Hampshire spokesperson said: “The developer has permission for the industrial units, which include the new Lidl supermarket. One of the requirements of the permission was to undertake highway improvements, which included a new signalised junction at the Mill Lane-Montecchio Way junction.

“It was a requirement of the permission to have these works completed before any of the approved units could be occupied, to ensure the junction operated safely and within capacity. There were also requirements for improvements to a nearby cycle lane and a new footpath over the railway line to Holybourne.

“It is the responsibility of the developer to see this work is done, and that begins by submitting a plan to Hampshire County Council – as the highways authority – which sets out when and how the work will be carried out.

“There was a delay in submitting this plan and this has meant the site cannot yet be opened.

“The developer and Hampshire County Council are working together to get this agreed as quickly as possible.”