CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new Co-op store in Colinton have been given the go-ahead after the developers appealed against the council’s refusal of permission.
A Scottish Government planning reporter has ruled the proposal to extend an existing newsagents/cafe in Bridge Road should be allowed despite concerns over the size of the development, fears about traffic problems and warnings that it could kill off other shops in the village.
Tom McDonald, vice-chair man of Colinton Community Council, said he was surprised the appeal had succeeded, given the objections made.
“We did our best to reflect the feeling within the community and I thought the arguments we made were strong, but the result has gone against us.”
He said the new store would present a challenge to existing shops and argued the reporter had underestimated the amount of extra traffic it would generate. Councillors on the city’s development management committee turned down the application in July after objectors argued the new store – which will be 223 per cent bigger than the existing shop – would force the closure of the other food retailers nearby, draining the village of vitality.
Kilpatrick Property Group Ltd then appealed against the decision, arguing the existing building was not viable as retail premises and without the proposed extension the unit would be left standing empty.
Giving her decision, the planning reporter, Frances McChlery, said the planning process could not intervene in commercial competition between individual shops in an area.
But she added: “In my view, the modernisation of an existing shop to make it suitable for a small branch of a multiple will improve the retailing offer of the local centre.”
She accepted the site of the store was “not an ideal location for modern levels of traffic”.
But she added: “I do not consider the existence of a marginally larger local shop at this location would make any significant difference to the existing traffic conditions on Bridge Road.”
On the design of the store extension, she said: “I do not consider that the building would appear to be out of place or discordant, and would not be strikingly noticeable to the extent that it would adversely affect the view, or detract from the conservation area.”
Jason Rust, Conservative councillor for Colinton/Fairmilehead, said: “This is an extremely disappointing decision given the number of local objections and the unanimous rejection by the development management committee following a site visit and hearing.
“Our concerns regarding roads and traffic remain, as well as the detrimental impact on the nature of the conservation village.”