plans to create a major supermarket and hundreds of homes in Portobello have been given the green light despite fears it will send the high street into terminal decline.
Budget shopping chain Aldi and housebuilder Cruden will develop the former ScottishPower site at Baileyfield – creating a supermarket and 200 homes – with the promise of creating up to 500 jobs.
The proposal has split the community, with hundreds of letters of support sent, but opposition to the project also cramming the planner’s mailbox.
Traders fear a large supermarket would reduce footfall in Portobello while several independent shops claimed they could be forced to close.
It was also argued that the development could heap further pressure on schools, doctors’ surgeries, and lead to more traffic congestion.
Butcher Jo Findlay, of Findlay’s of Portobello, said: “The presence of these [discount shops] plus the economic downturn have had a negative impact on Portobello High Street and the trade has fallen by five per cent in the last few years.
“I have a deli next door and now it closes at 2pm every day because of falling trade. The developer predicts a loss of trade to the whole town centre of 3.3 per cent. I think that is unrealistic.”
But many were pleased that the future of a long-standing gap site, once touted as a possible location for a replacement Portobello High School, had been secured.
Vice-convener, SNP councillor Sandy Howat, said Aldi offered something different to the high street retailers and bigger supermarket chains.
“My main concern is that if we don’t get retail back into Portobello it will die, and it’s dying already,” he said.
“But this mixed-use coming in not only gives a different retail provision, and a different transport and parking provision, it actually brings people back living in Portobello.”
Rob Newman, planning consultant for agents GVA, said his clients had worked hard to “balance many competing opinions.”
“Since submission, we have made further changes in response to the feedback, notably the introduction of new public realm and public art along Portobello High Street,” he said.