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Council / Co-op store could lead to pressure for road improvements in Sandwick, planning staff told

The location of the proposed Co-op in Sandwick. © Google 2021

SHETLAND Islands Council could face calls to fund “significant’ additional road infrastructure in Sandwick to cater for an expected increase in traffic if a proposed Co-op shop gets the go-ahead.

That is the warning from the council’s own roads department, which has said that a Co-op at Stove would likely place additional pressure on the single-track roads leading to Sandwick.

“Traffic volumes and conflicts have already been raised as an issue on the Setter section and any significant increase in demand could lead to increased calls to upgrade this section to double track,” the department said in response to the convenience store’s planning application.

“Through Swinister the speed of traffic and lack of any footway provision have been raised as concerns before and any increase in through traffic will have a negative impact on the existing situation.

“Due to the difficulty in predicting the impact of this proposed store on traffic demands from outwith Sandwick then it must be recognised that if the development proceeds then council may well face calls to fund significant additional roads infrastructure within Sandwick as a result.”

The roads department said that a “safe” approach could be factoring in road improvements as part of the development proposals, but without knowing the true impact on traffic the shop would bring, it would not likely be “defensible”.

It also suggested a two metre wide footway should be created across the front of the site for pedestrians.

National retailer Co-op plans to open new shops in Sandwick and East Voe in Scalloway as part of a £1.2 million investment which could create up to 30 jobs.

But the local retail industry have criticised the plans, saying they could have a severe impact on local shops and wholesalers.

Sandwick Community Council will discuss the Stove planning application at a meeting on 27 April.

The roads department has also raised concern over the proposed layout of the East Voe store, and in particular future access provision for a parcel of land to the north east of the site.

Meanwhile, the current owner of Scalloway Meat Company – which runs a shop in the village – has now also written to Shetland Islands Council’s planning service about the plans.

Neil Watt said the company employs 30 staff in Scalloway and six in Lerwick, with the business looking to recruit more.

“These jobs are likely to be put in jeopardy if a new Co-op is built at East Voe in Scalloway,” he said.

“If the Scalloway Meat Company were to close there be a knock-on effect to the economy of Shetland.

“As a wholesaler we supply many country shops in the islands, including the North Isles, as well as hotels and restaurants with their meat requirements.”

Watt said the company is also “possibly the biggest customer of the local abattoir, putting through 700 sheep and 150 cattle every year”.

“There is the likelihood of money being lost to the Shetland economy if these ‘convenience’ stores were to go ahead, so I ask that careful consideration is given to this planning application just when Scalloway is going through a period of trying to ‘re-create’ itself and Shetland is trying to promote Shetland food and businesses in what are already difficult times for retail”.

Co-op says both Sandwick and Scalloway have “sufficient population and demand to support a new store”.

A spokesperson previously said: “The stores will be located to better serve the communities in Scalloway and Sandwick, making it a total of four in Shetland, in addition to those existing in Brae and Lerwick.

“The development would be subject to planning consent and approval and would enable Co-op to develop a convenience store which would provide greatly improved access to food and other essential, every-day services, for the community.”