Supermarket bosses have been accused of “dirty tricks” after managers from other stores wrote to planners to show support of controversial plans to build flats for 121 students.
Scotmid has resubmitted proposals to knock down its Gorgie Road store and rebuild it with a four-storey block of student flats above the shop after initial plans were refused by councillors.
The current proposals have received 35 objections and 23 letters of support – of which seven have been made by management at other Scotmid stores and five by current staff members of the Gorgie shop. The firm said the 12 letters of support for the proposals, which include managers of Stockbridge and Barnton stores, were down to the enthusiasm of staff members.
The initial application was refused due to the impact on neighbouring properties after attracting 52 objections and not a single letter of support.
Andrew King, who lives in a flat next door to the shop, blasted the letters being sent in from staff members living as far away as South Queensferry and Leith in support of the resubmitted plans.
He said: “The objectors are all residents. It’s a bit sneaky to find all these other addresses from all over the shop – nowhere near Gorgie.
“The manager has been asking them to go on to it and comment. I understand one of the staff members has got their mum to do it. They are using dirty tricks. I could easily ask hundreds of people to put objection letters in, but that’s not the way it should be done.”
If approved, the student accommodation will be made up of 50 studio bedrooms and 71 cluster rooms along with “high-quality internal amenity and study spaces”, according to Scotmid.
Independent ward Cllr Ashley Graczyk, who raised concerns that local residents are not being listened to, said: “I have been alarmed by recent feedback from my constituents in Sighthill-Gorgie saying that they feel that their voice is not being heard in the planning process and their views are not adequately represented.
“It is absolutely vital to listen to the views of local residents when major developments are proposed in their community and our planning process should ensure that this happens.”
Scotmid’s head of property, Maurissa Fergusson, said: “The enthusiasm of our store staff is second to none – over the past three years Scotmid staff have raised over £1m for our Charity of the Year partners – and they are excited about the prospect of working in a new state-of-the-art store which has led to some Scotmid employees sending in letters of support in favour of the proposed redevelopment.”