Blow for Lothian jobs as Tesco ditches store plans

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Tesco has pulled out of plans for a major new store in the Lothians at the 11th hour, sparking fears for another planned site.

The Evening News understands that the supermarket giant has abandoned the building of a huge store at Polkemmet, near Whitburn, prompting fears it might also abandon another in Broxburn.

The Polkemmet site, which would have created hundreds of jobs, was approved by West Lothian Council’s planning department in 2010.

Whitburn councillor Gordon Beurskens said: “As far as I am aware, they are not going to open a store at Polkemmet, as the missives for the site expired two weeks ago on Friday.

“Obviously, this is a big blow to Whitburn.

“There’s absolutely nothing to stop this happening in Broxburn and one of the concerns raised at the planning meeting at which it was discussed was that Tesco could ‘land bank’ the site by getting planning permission then not go through with it.

“I understand there are a number of Tesco projects that have stalled across the country.”

Tesco’s bid to build a new store and petrol station at Broxburn’s former Candleworks site between Greendykes Road and Clarkson Road was approved last week.

A stipulation on planning permission is that Tesco begins work on the site within two years.

Permission has also been granted approval, in principle, for a 100-home residential development on the land.

It means proposals by Sainsbury’s – which objected to Tesco’s plans – for a 5600 square foot supermarket and petrol station at the town’s Peniel Place are much less likely to go through.

Councillor Beurskens said: “My understanding is that a retail impact assessment concluded there would only be room for one store.

“If Tesco has been consented, it’s difficult to see how there would be scope for a Sainbury’s there as well.”

Tesco refused to confirm if it had pulled out of the site at Polkemmet.

A spokeswoman said: “We are delighted that members backed our proposals for Broxburn and recognised that our plans are the best fit for the local area in the best location.

“We would like to thank the local community for their continued support in helping us bring this investment to their town.

“This positive outcome demonstrates that members recognised the merits of our proposals, the support from the local community, and the jobs and other benefits our development will bring to the area and economy.”