Aldi in Thornybank recommended for refusal

Friday October 9th 2020


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Plans for Midlothian’s first Aldi store to open in Dalkeith have been recommended for refusal by council officers, despite receiving 46 letter of support from local residents.

Aldi has described the decision by Midlothian officers to ask councillors to throw out its plans for a Thornybank North store as “disappointing”.

Local residents gave their backing to the store, welcoming the possibility of new jobs and citing the need for an ‘affordable’ alternative to other more expensive outlets.

A report which will go before councillors at a virtual planning meeting next week also revealed four objections to the proposed new supermarket were lodged, although it noted that one of those came from another food retailer in the area.

Planers recommended refusal of permission on the grounds that the site was identified in Midlothian’s Local Development Plan for housing.

The supermarket would take up half a site which had been identified for 30 new homes in the plan.

Aldi had argued that the supermarket would replace an area set aside for a Wester Cowden hub which has yet to be developed and is just 300 metres away.

However, planning officers said that the envisaged hub had been a mix of small retail businesses such as a hairdressers or a creche rather than a superstore.

And in their report to council, they said: “While it is appreciated that some of the local community have expressed support for the convenience of a supermarket at the application site, the level of support is not significantand a convincing argument has not been made that there is not already a convenient range of different shopping opportunities in the area already, with Tesco, Morrisons, Lidl and Sainbury’s all having stores serving Aldi’s proposed catchment area. ”

Aldi this week responded to the recommendation, pointing out the new store would represent a significant investment of around £3.6 million and create up to 35 local jobs within the store, together with new jobs during construction and within the Aldi supply chain.

Philip Johnston, property director – Scotland at Aldi, said: “Despite overwhelming public support for our proposals, we are disappointed and surprised that the application has been recommended for refusal by Midlothian Council’s planning department.

“We remain confident, however, that the robust planning case we have put forward, coupled with the overwhelming public support, means that a new Aldi store can open in Dalkeith and we look forward to the application being decided upon by councillors at next week’s planning committee meeting.

“Our proposed store in Dalkeith would be our first store in Midlothia,n which is a key growth area for Aldi.

“As well as bringing increased choice for shoppers, the proposals will transform a former industrial site and create up to 35 new local jobs in the town and an overall economic investment of £3.6 million.”

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