Aldi has been granted planning permission to build a store on a brownfield site in the Oxgangs area of Edinburgh, practically next door to well-known local retailers Dennis and Linda Williams.
Despite numerous objections the planning officer granted permission without a hearing. The store has still to be built, but for former Scottish Local Retailers of the Year, Dennis and Linda, it leaves the future of their business hanging in the balance.
“We’re not going anyway. It’s made us more determined,” says Dennis, who told SLR that he would be writing to his local MP, MSP, councillor and the head of planning to let them know his feelings on the matter.
SGF Public Affairs Manager John Lee said it was a shocking decision by the planning committee in Edinburgh. “They have shown no understanding of the impact this development will have on existing businesses and ignored the need for affordable housing in the area. Dennis and Linda have fought a brilliant campaign which has shown how highly the community value Broadway Premier – they will continue to thrive.”
Linda Williams, said that she knew it was a long shot that the company would win the battle and so they have been making contingency plans. “That’s why we did a refit last year and why we’ve got other plans in the pipeline,” she said.
She added that the store has had great support from Booker, and revealed that the company’s Chief Executive Charles Wilson has visited the stores since the decision to discuss how the business can help. “Charles is looking at it as a challenge for Booker,” said Linda. “It will happen to more and more stores.”
The challenge now is for Broadway Convenience Store to concentrate on customer retention. “We do things they don’t do, and apart from price they don’t have anything going for them,” said Linda. “We will make the most of stocking brands and our value proposition. We have at least a year to plan and we remain a destination shop in the area.”
Linda claimed that the council paid lip service to the objections. She said: “The volume of objections should have justified a hearing at the least. Our MP and councillor requested it and it was turned down. We could have explained some of the issues that we put into the objections and to be fair – unless you live here you don’t realise the ramifications on the local community and the local businesses within it.”
Attention will now turn to Hawick where another SGF member is in a similar predicament.