A supermarket which broke planning rules by charging for parking has been fined in court.

Aldi has admitted breaking the rule by only allowing one hour’s free stay at its Portslade store.

No one from the firm appeared in court yesterday but the company was fined £600 and ordered to pay £1,215 costs after pleading guilty by letter.

Under the conditions of the development at Carlton Terrace, the chain must provide three hours’ free parking to ease pressure on shoppers in Portslade.

Planning enforcement officers from Brighton and Hove City Council first told the store to comply with its conditions in March 2010.

Aldi submitted a planning application to change the conditions to one hour’s free parking, but was refused permission.

Between May 2010 and February 2011, the council received complaints Aldi was allowing only the first hour of parking free.

A formal notice was issued – but the parking charges stayed the same and officers decided to summons the company to Brighton Magistrates’ Court for a breach of the Town and Country Planning Act.

Martin Randall, the council’s head of planning and public protection, said: “The condition to provide free parking is designed to benefit residents and local shops, including Aldi.

“We are disappointed our requests to comply with this were ignored, and we were left with no alternative but to take legal action.”

Aldi wrote to the council, saying it had reduced the free parking times because its customers could not get a space when visitors to other shops used its car park.

Roland Stanley, the company’s property director, said the parking times had been changed back to three hours’ free stay on Friday.

The firm is currently applying to reduce free parking to two hours.

He wrote: “We wish to work with the council and are confident of reaching a mutually acceptable position to resolve this unfortunate situation.”