Fruitmarket uncertainty as Morrisons’ pull-out

A wholesalers' display at the fruit market in Chesser Avenue in 1983
A wholesalers' display at the fruit market in Chesser Avenue in 1983
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RESIDENTS and councillors are to hold a crisis meeting over the future of a notorious gap site after reports Morrisons have pulled the plug on plans to open a new store.

The supermarket giant has not commented, but community leaders living next to the site of the former Hutchison and Chesser Fruitmarket – which has lain derelict for a decade – said they were bitterly disappointed.

They called on city bosses to draw up new plans as quickly as possible, which they said should include a range of smaller food and convenience stores currently lacking in the local area.

Harry Sutherland, chair of Hutchison and Chesser community council, said: “There is great disappointment.

“There have been all sorts of problems over the years with that site – we’ve had gypsies and gangs congregating in it. It’s more or less been a tip.”
Hopes were raised that a bright new future for the land had been secured when planning permission was confirmed last year for a supermarket and housing on the site, situated just off Hutchison Road.

But locals said news of Morrisons’ apparent change of heart had plunged their neighbourhood into renewed uncertainty.

“There’s nothing in this area and we are planning to put that to whoever takes this site over,” said Mr Sutherland.

“We really need new housing here as well but as far as I understand it, housing cannot go ahead until they find someone to develop the site for retail.

“The quicker that happens, the better.”

Ward councillors said planning chiefs and developers should move forward with new plans as soon as possible. 
Councillor Gavin Corbett, Green member for Fountainbridge and Craiglockhart, said: “The Fruitmarket site has been derelict for a decade and really needs to be used, especially when there is so much greenbelt land under threat.

“But the last thing the area needed was yet another massive supermarket so I am pleased that Morrisons has pulled out. A development with more affordable homes and smaller shop units looks to me much more appropriate.”

He added: “This meeting will be an opportunity for community members to give views on what kind of shops best suit the area and to say what else they’d like to see – traffic improvements, road safety measures, a new cycleway and possibly even some new community space.”

No-one at Morrisons responded to Evening News requests for comment.

The meeting to discuss the future of the Hutchison Fruitmarket site takes place on June 25 at St Cuthbert’s Primary.