Protesters campaign against Aldi supermarket plans

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Controversial plans for a budget supermarket on land previously earmarked for housing or community use have sparked a protest campaign.

Aldi wants to open a new store on the site of the former Oxgangs Social Work Centre and St John’s Parish Church.

But shopkeepers in the area fear they will be driven out of business, insisting there isn’t enough demand in the area for a new supermarket.

More than 5000 leaflets have been handed out in Oxgangs as part if the Say No to Aldi campaign, which is hosting a drop-in information event to encourage neighbours to lodge objections with the city 
council.

Linda Williams, who owns Broadway Convenience Store, in Oxgangs Broadway, predicted that Aldi would damage trade and cause job losses in the area. She said: “Broadway is a thriving shopping precinct and we have a good balance there. It will take something like this to tip the balance. If one business starts to go down, we could end up with a derelict parade of empty shops.”

When marketing the site last year, the city council said that “a mix of community uses and residential was likely to be preferred”.

But despite two of 11 bids being made by social housing providers, a larger offer from the wealthy German firm was accepted in January.

Residents have also raised concerns about increased traffic, including pollution, noise and road safety issues.

But the supermarket firm said it would bring 30 new jobs to the area and “spin-off benefits” for surrounding businesses.

A spokesman also said there would be improved pedestrian accesses to the Broadway 
Centre and library as part of the redevelopment.

He said: “An estimated 40,000 customers per month would be drawn into the Oxgangs area bringing spin-off benefits to many of the Broadway shops and businesses. The proposals will enhance and regenerate a site that is 
surplus to requirements for both Church of Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council.

“The site is not allocated for any particular land use in the Local Plan and has never been allocated for housing.”

The Say No to Aldi drop-in event – organised by groups including the Scottish Grocers Federation and the Fairmilehead Association – takes place at Oxgangs Library tomorrow between 3pm and 7.30pm.

John Drummond, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers Federation, said he was ­concerned about “over-provision” in Oxgangs.