Aldi is given the go-ahead

Tuesday October 13th 2020


The site in Thornybank Dalkeith where Aldi can now build their store.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Midlothian could see its first Aldi store open next autumn after councillors overturned planning officers’ advice and granted the chain planning permission to build in Dalkeith.

Council leader Derek Milligan described giving Aldi the go-ahead to move into the county as a “no brainer”.

And he expressed surprise that planning officers had recommended the planning application be rejected.

Aldi applied for planning permission to open its first store in the county at Thornybank North in Dalkeith.

However, Midlothian Council planners urged councillors to reject the plans because the site was on land allocated for housing.

At a virtual planning committee meeting today (Tuesday), council leader Derek Milligan said he was surprised by their position given the number of sites allocated for retail which were lying empty, including one next to the site.

He said: “We have these hubs or sites which attract no interest and here we have a national retailer willing to come in and take this site up. It is a no brainer to me.”

Planners had argued that the supermarket would take up half a site which had been identified for 30 new homes in the council’s Local Development Plan.

And while Aldi said the housing could still be delivered on a smaller part of the site, it also pointed to neighbouring land which had been set aside as a Wester Cowden hub which was not moving forward.

More than 50 representations of support had been lodged with the council prior to the meeting, with only five objections.

Local councillors and planning committee members described the number of emails they had received from residents in support of Aldi as unprecedented.

As well as promising more than 35 local jobs, residents argued that Aldi would give them a choice over where they shopped.

Local councillor Pauline Winchester told the committee: “I totally agree with people saying there is nowhere for people to shop other than the Sainsbury’s Local, which is not the cheapest shop going.

“People need a choice.”

Councillor Stephen Curran, ward member for Dalkeith, urged fellow committee members to overturn the officers’ recommendation and approve planning permission, adding a condition that Aldi look at developing a pedestrian link to neighbouring communities.

He said: “We are not just building houses, we are building communities.

“I do not see this retail development as being detrimental to Dalkeith town centre, if I thought it would have a detrimental impact I would not support it.

“This is about building communities and providing services for them.”

Fellow Dalkeith councillor Colin Cassidy agreed, saying: “The fly tipping at the site is a disgrace, it is actually running with rats at the moment.

“Having anything there will be an improvement and getting an Aldi in there is a vast improvement. This is something anywhere in Scotland would be proud to have in their backyard.”

And Councillor Andrew Hardie said supermarkets had proved to be more important than ever during the Covid pandemic.

He said: “One thing we’ve all realised in this Covid situation is supermarkets are an essential service.

“This is something we have to make sure people have access to in all our communities.”

The committee agreed unanimously to approve planning permission for the superstore.

Philip Johnston, Aldi property director – Scotland, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the application has been approved, and would like to thank everyone for their support.

“We can’t wait to bring our award-winning offer to Midlothian, a key area for our future growth ambitions.

“We anticipate that our Dalkeith store will open in autumn 2021, bringing up to 35 new full and part-time job opportunities, as well as increased choice and quality for local shoppers.”

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