CONTROVERSIAL plans to create a Tesco Express in an upmarket New Town street have been branded “out of keeping” with the Georgian architecture of the area.
Designs have been lodged to transform a luxury furniture showroom on Dundas Street into a convenience outlet for the major supermarket chain.
It would mean the ‘And So To Bed’ store would receive a complete makeover – including a new glazed, aluminium shopfront, automatic doors and a cash machine.
But heritage and traders chiefs have criticised the plans raising concerns about the store’s visual impact on its surroundings and the consequences for long-standing independent retailers.
The Tesco blueprints come months after research by the Scottish Greens showed Edinburgh already had the highest number of Tesco Express stores per head of population anywhere in the country.
Gordon Henderson, who runs the Edinburgh branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said shop owners were right to fear competition from Tesco.
He said: “There are a lot of shops, especially at the bottom of the street, that will certainly be impacted.
“I don’t think Dundas Street was struggling to begin with where supermarkets were concerned, and so you can understand why many businesses won’t be excited at the prospect of welcoming a Tesco Express into the area.
“Larger supermarket chains tend to be driven by profit rather than consumer amenity, and that profit is moving outwith the local economy.
“It doesn’t sustain local business, and so it will be a threat to many shop owners.”
These claims were echoed by ward councillor Alasdair Rankin, the city’s finance leader, who said he had received complaints.
He added: “I have already had a number of constituents that have expressed concerns with how this development may impact local businesses.”
But Marion Williams, director of heritage body The Cockburn Association, said the facade of a Tesco Express would be alien to the splendour one of the New Town’s best-known streets.
“The application is very much out of keeping with the local area,” she said.
“The new shopfront and railings are in a style that doesn’t conform to the rest of the neighbourhood, and there’s also concerns surrounding the addition of a cash machine on to the building’s front, as that will create a huge increase in footfall on the street at all hours of the night.”
A total of 20 objections have already been submitted in response to the plans – with a particular concern noted about a noisy air conditioning unit.
Developers claim the fan is “one of the quietest options” available, and noise impact will be minimal.
Planners will decide on the proposal next month.