Independent shops dream to rejuvenate Corstorphine

The row of shops earmarked for the proposed supermarket in St John's Road. Picture: Scott Taylor
The row of shops earmarked for the proposed supermarket in St John's Road. Picture: Scott Taylor
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CAMPAIGNERS today said they hoped independent retailers would bring new life to Corstorphine after controversial plans for a supermarket were thrown out.

The proposed 21,000sq ft store at the corner of St John’s Road and Manse Road was unanimously rejected by councillors after officials said it would lead to increased congestion and poorer air quality.

St John’s Road was last week labelled the most polluted street in Scotland after latest figures revealed concentrations of nitrogen dioxide were nearly double the legal limit.

Becky Lloyd, of the Corstorphine Residents Information and Action Group, formed to oppose the supermarket plan, said she was delighted.

She said: “Corstorphine represents a huge business opportunity for anyone looking to open independent shops or cafes – it currently has the lowest number of independent retailers of any Edinburgh town centre.

“The buzz around the new Mimi’s bakery and cafe that is opening and the success of the Stortebacker bakery in The Wee Shop show just how much enthusiasm and demand there is for vibrant, new businesses.”

Toni Giugliano, SNP candidate for Edinburgh Western in next year’s Holyrood elections, also welcomed the decision and said it showed how powerful communities could be when they got together.

Waitrose pulled out of the proposed development earlier this year, citing “changes in trading conditions” but developer Realis had pressed ahead with the application, hoping to secure another supermarket chain for the site.

Mr Giugliano said: “Clearly an appeal isn’t off the cards and the community will continue to oppose a large-scale development. But Corstorphine doesn’t need yet another supermarket giant which already exist in the area. What we need is more small independent businesses that will enhance the character of the community and won’t leave such a large footprint.

“Large-scale developments that would exacerbate air pollution and congestion should never see the light of day on this street.”

Lib Dem candidate Alex Cole-Hamilton said he hoped the shops on the site of the proposed store would now be refurbished and become home to independent retailers.

He said: “As we get past the economic downturn, there will be more opportunities for small businesses and I hope we could see almost a Stockbridge approach with more independent retailers making it a dynamic shopping area.”

A spokesman for Realis Estates said: “We are obviously disappointed not to have received planning permission for our scheme, which would have brought much needed investment to Corstorphine.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com