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Business / Co-op starts consultation to allay fears over supermarket plans

The Co-op already operates two super markets in Shetland, one in Lerwick, the other in Brae. Photo: Malcolm Younger for Shetland News

THE COMPANIES behind hugely controversial plans to build two new Co-op supermarkets in Scalloway and Sandwick have started a consultation exercise with local communities.

Seamount, the property development company acting on behalf of the Manchester based national retailer, has now written to over 2,500 households and businesses to seek their views on the proposal.

The company has also created a dedicated website for people to find out more about the project, and to provide feedback and comment.

The local retail and wholesale sector has expressed “grave concerns” in response to the proposals and has warned that many more jobs would be lost in small food related businesses across the isles than would be created by the investment in the two villages.

They have received the support of isles MP Alistair Carmichael who has written to local planners urging them to carefully consider the impact their decision would have on the entire community.

What sort of community do we want? MP asks, while urging planners to reject plans for two new Co-op supermarkets

Meanwhile, the Co-op has said they would invest £2.4 million rather than £1.2 million as was initially indicated. The number of jobs to be created has been upped from 30 to 40.

Each store, due to be opened in late 2022, will create around 20 new jobs and will have an increased range and choice of fresh and healthy produce, Seamount said on Monday.

The isles existing Co-op stores at Lerwick and Brae currently stock over 130 product lines from local Shetland suppliers.

Seamount Property Development director Alastair Ness said the new stores would reduce the need to travel to Lerwick to shop.

The company’s investment would also benefit local contractors, he said.

“As a developer we believe in the importance of providing the community with an opportunity to view, and importantly provide feedback on our proposals,” Ness added.

“As well as writing to local residents, and noting the current situation with Covid, we have also created a dedicated consultation page to ensure that there are various ways in which people can provide comment to us.”

Feedback on the plans can be provided via this website https://coopshetland.consultationonline.co.uk/ It will stay live up until the planning applications are determined by the Shetland Islands Council.