Portobello to get say on shop and homes plans

Aldi plans a supermarket on the former ScottishPower site in Portobello. Picture: Greg Macvean
Aldi plans a supermarket on the former ScottishPower site in Portobello. Picture: Greg Macvean
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PLANS for a new supermarket and hundreds of homes are set to be presented to residents across Portobello.

Budget shopping chain Aldi and housebuilder Cruden have joined forces to develop the former ScottishPower site at Baileyfield.

Community councillors have now launched a wide-ranging consultation amid fears over the potential pressure on the town’s infrastructure.

They are seeking to canvass 12,000 residents and business owners who live or work within the EH15 area.

A leaflet alerting residents to the consultation is scheduled to be delivered to 5000 homes from Monday.

The survey asks people to submit their views of the proposal before October 24, with options ranging from “strongly support” to “strongly object”.

Portobello already has a Costcutter, a Sainsbury’s Local and a Scotmid on Bath Street, sparking claims that there are already enough supermarkets in the area.

There are also concerns that another supermarket might affect schools, doctors’ surgeries, and lead to more traffic congestion.

The survey also mentions possible benefits, including more jobs and more affordable housing.

David Walker, Labour councillor for Portobello and Craigmillar, said: “I am quite impressed by the housing proposals, but not entirely convinced there is the need for another food store in Portobello.

“Aldi is a reputable operator and runs very good stores, but I worry about the impact this development will have on the range of small shops that operate throughout the area. It will be important to hear what local people think.”

Mike Bridgman, SNP ward councillor, said increased housing could actually lead to a business boom rather than harming the high street.

“The site has been unused for so long that something should come out of this as soon as possible,” he said.

“More housing will help the high street and would benefit local shops.”

The planning application for Baileyfield marks the latest twist in the long history of the site.

Once touted as a possible location for a replacement Portobello High School, the gap site was also previously earmarked for developments as diverse as an art gallery, health centre and a new home for the Royal British Legion.

Several years ago, Duddingston House Properties unveiled plans for a supermarket, which was eventually rejected after a public inquiry.

In 2010, plans for a “Waitrose-style” supermarket were unveiled, but Edinburgh-based BL Developments had to go back to the drawing board after planners rejected its £100 million proposals for the site off Portobello High Street.

It scaled back the housing element of the plans by around 15 per cent, and introduced a “smaller food store” that it said was needed to make the scheme stack up financially.

A spokesman for Portobello Community Council said: “Supermarket chain Aldi and housebuilders Cruden have now submitted a planning application for the site at Baileyfield.

“The application is for outline planning permission in principle for a residential development of around 220 new homes and detailed planning permission for an Aldi food store with associated car parking and landscaping.

“This is a major development which will help shape Portobello and surrounding areas for years to come.

“Portobello Community Council would like to accurately reflect what local people think about this proposal.”