Supermarket set to be refused due to air pollution

The site of the proposed development at the corner of St John's Road and Manse Road. Picture: Scott Taylor

The site of the proposed development at the corner of St John's Road and Manse Road. Picture: Scott Taylor

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CONTROVERSIAL plans for a supermarket in Corstorphine look set to be thrown out after officials recommended its refusal.

Councillors have been told the proposed store in St John’s Road would lead to too much congestion and worsen air quality in what was this week declared Scotland’s most polluted street.

Campaigners who have been fighting the supermarket today welcomed the recommendation and said they were confident the proposal would be rejected.

Waitrose pulled out of plans for the 21,000sq ft store at the corner with Manse Road earlier this year, citing “changes in trading conditions” but developer Realis was pressing ahead with the application.

A report to be discussed by councillors next week says a large food retail store at the heart of a town centre is acceptable in principle.

But it continues: “However, the proposed development fails to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area, will have an adverse effect on the road network, pedestrian safety and convenience and provides an excessive amount of car parking in a heavily congested area with good public transport links.”

The report adds that the increased congestion would have adverse effects on air quality in what has been designated an Air Quality Management Area because pollution levels are already so high.

This week, Friends of the Earth described St John’s Road as “the most polluted street in Scotland” after latest figures showed concentrations of nitrogen dioxide were nearly double the legal limit.

FoE air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna welcomed the officials’ recommendation to refuse what she said would be a wholly inappropriate development for Corstorphine.

She said: “We are confident that, based on the planning officer’s recommendation and head of transport’s concerns, the development management sub-committee will refuse permission for the store. People have had to put up with poor air quality for too long in Corstorphine, and this store would only make the situation worse.

“The council has a lot to do to improve air quality in the area. We are hopeful that it will refocus efforts on tackling vehicle congestion in the area, by improving bus and cycle lanes and by creating a low emission zone, which would keep the most polluting vehicles out of the area.”

Becky Lloyd, of the Corstorphine Residents Action and Information Group, said she was “cautiously delighted” at the report’s conclusion.

She said: “I’m well aware the committee could still overturn the recommendation, but having looked through the report, as predicted, the development fails against many, many of the council’s own policies.”

A spokesman for Realis Estates said: “We are obviously disappointed our application has been recommended for refusal. Until the council meet next week to determine the application it would be premature for us to say anything further.”