DISCOUNT chain Aldi hopes to brighten up Highworth before it finally builds its new supermarket in the town – which could be in the first quarter of next year.

Company bosses asked councillors for suggestions of where it could invest in improving areas lacking greenery or wildlife.

This will offset a net loss of 1.25 acres of grassland caused by the building of the new shop on the Blackworth Industrial Estate.

Taylor Sherratt from Aldi said: “As part of the original application, we had to show a net biodiversity gain. The original site is species-rich grassland which makes it quite difficult to achieve a gain on the site with a retail development.

“This development is quite land-intensive and there isn’t much space for landscaping, so we came to a council meeting to see if you have any need for eco-diversity schemes.”

Suggestions included planting more trees along Swindon Street to improve the air quality for people who live and work there, sprucing up the memorial garden at the end of that street with bird boxes, wildflowers and logs, converting the wasteland near Brewery Street car park, helping wildlife garden projects at town schools, and supporting volunteers at Pentylands Country Park.

Resident Angela Livall asked if offering a piece of Pentylands Farm would provide a quick solution to the supermarket’s biodiversity loss problem.

Coun Webster disagreed: “We hardly get any money from Swindon because they spend it all on Swindon town centre.

“I think we should look at something that would help Highworth town centre rather than an area of land off the beaten track that nobody sees. Look at everything rather than a quick fix.”

Ms Livall replied: “These are all very good ideas but they are fragmented and I’m not sure they’ll help wildlife all that much.”

Aldi received planning permission for the new shop last July but a failed attempt by the town’s current only supermarket the Midcounties Co-operative caused construction efforts to be delayed.

The Aldi team working on the Highworth development promised Section 106 money – cash paid to councils by developers to fund local projects – would be coming soon.

Mr Sherratt said the firm was aiming to start construction early next year, adding: “It’s been quite a while since it went to planning with all your support, thank you for that. We’re about a fortnight away from getting the Section 106 money signed off then it’s subject to a six-week judicial review.

“We don’t know what the Co-operative is going to do.

"We’ve made the application as robust as possible but we can’t guarantee that they won’t try again.

“This time, we have made sure that even if they do challenge the judicial review, their chance of success is not great. It would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and I suspect that the Co-op wouldn’t be willing to invest that kind of money.”