Supermarket giant Morrisons has ruled itself out of the running to open a new store at a disused Midlothian bus station.
Rumours had been rife that the company was set to move in to the former First Bus depot in Eskbank Road, Dalkeith, after the transport firm announced it was quitting the base amid huge cutbacks.
It is understood the arrival would have created enough jobs to eclipse those lost with the bus company’s withdrawal.
But Morrisons today denied that it had shown any interest in the site, while discount store Aldi has also quashed speculation it had an interest.
The news comes after Sainsbury’s – which had been tipped to take over the site – pulled out of a planned £20 million investment to transform the station into a supermarket incorporating a bar, restaurant and health and fitness centre.
The store would have taken up 44,000sq ft over two levels and would have included 251 car parking spaces and an upper level for leisure outlets and offices.
Dalkeith Community Council has been calling for a supermarket in a central area of the town, with shoppers’ only current option being a Tesco on the outskirts.
Community councillor Neil Hynd said: “This will be a blow for Dalkeith. At first Asda said they might be moving to the old Dalkeith High School site, then Sainsbury’s to the bus station, neither of which happened. The problem is no-one knows what’s going on.”
In April, Donald Stewart, managing director of site owner Forrest Developments, said a chain had expressed an interest in the site, but refused to be drawn on any details.
If the site was to be developed, it would result in two businesses – Dalkeith Newsagent and Yu Express – being bulldozed.
William Alvie, who runs Dalkeith Newsagent, has been at the shop for 26 years and is preparing to shut down.
He said: “I’m going to have to close my business [if the site is developed].
“I’m not happy, but there’s nothing I can do. Hopefully I will manage to open up somewhere else, but I’m not sure.”
Dalkeith councillor Alex Bennett said: “I think this news will be really disappointing for people in Dalkeith.
“I would still be hopeful things might work – it’s a big site and it’s certainly big enough for a supermarket.
“Some of the restaurants and cafes would get a boost because people would start coming into Dalkeith to do their shopping.”
A spokesman for Morrisons said: “We do not have an interest in this site.”