Supermarket concerns in Stonehaven

STONEHAVEN and District Community Council have written to the Scottish Government Reporter asking him to make a clear recommendation to improve the supermarket provision in the area. This follows the local development hearing which took place in Stonehaven last month. The Community Council were disappointed that they were not represented at the hearing and decided to write to the Scottish Government reporter to express their concerns about the local plan.

In the letter, which was sent this week, the Community Council Chairman David Fleming raises the issues of the need for a supermarket and the exclusion of two possible sites for supermarkets.

The letter states: “At the outset, we wish to confirm that S&DCC supports the majority of the elements in the Draft Local Plan, in particular its limits on housing in the area. However, the overwhelming opinion in Stonehaven is that the community is badly served for retail opportunities and that the situation is becoming so detrimental to the local economy that a more pragmatic approach needs to be considered by you and Aberdeenshire Council.

“As you will know the only site currently designated for retail development is area CC1 (Spurryhillock Roads Depot) which according to Aberdeenshire Council’s own admission can only accommodate a store of 1750 sq.m.- a store this size will not significantly stem the current retail leakage and there are serious concerns over access to that site.

“The majority view of the people in Stonehaven is as follows; we need another supermarket, as the current Co-op monopoly does not serve the town well. The community wants a full size supermarket to address the retail deficit, but without large numbers of new houses attached.

“Before you are five bids from various developers and whilst S&DCC has not been allowed to put forward arguments for or against any or all of the bids, it is fair to say that S&DCC would welcome the supermarket aspect of any bid. In addition to these bids, we are aware of two further developments. MacDonald Estates have recently acquired the rights to a portion of Spurryhillock Industrial Estate with the intention of exploring the possibility of a supermarket. FM Developments (Ury Estate) have submitted plans for a supermarket on their much delayed development. The original Ury bid for a Golf Course, housing and renovation of Ury House obtained widespread public support, including that of S&DCC, before financial issues stopped it. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the additional supermarket proposal would have widespread support, but this was not tested either in the recent SATRA survey or in your own hearing.

“As the Reporter examining the Draft Local Plan you will be aware of the retail shortcomings in the Stonehaven area and we would ask you to make some recommendations to correct this deficiency. The current plan for 1750 sq m. only addresses about 30% of the deficiency. To summarise, the delays and confusion surrounding the site for a Supermarket in Stonehaven are badly affecting the town and reflecting badly on our public bodies, and we urge you to include all potential sites in your deliberations irrespective of current planning policies.”