THE CO-OP is seeking to “complement the existing retail offering” in Sandwick and Scalloway and increase product choice by opening two new shops, according to new documents lodged with the planning service.
The property developer behind plans for stores at Stove in Sandwick and East Voe in Scalloway say by increasing the choice and availability of products in the areas, the number of shopping trips people will have to make to Lerwick will be reduced.
The £2.4 million plan for the two new stores has caused great concern amongst the local retail and wholesale sector, with warnings made that existing jobs – and even businesses – could be lost due to the competition.
While a total of 40 jobs would be created if the Sandwick and East Voe shops came to fruition, there are some worries locally there could be an overall negative impact on local employment.
Seamount Property Development said while there is no requirement in policy for an assessment of the wider retail and economic impacts, the Co-op is currently preparing reports on this matter to support the planning applications.
“The Co-op are seeking to complement the existing retail offering in Scalloway through the provision of a new store, thereby enhancing the choice and availability of products to local residents, reducing the number of trips outwith the catchment area,” the property developer said.
It adds that “no independent analysis has been submitted” to substantiate claims of “perceived negative impacts” to the islands’ economy and existing rural businesses.
But the developer reiterates that the Co-op also gone beyond its requirements by preparing assessments and also launching a feedback website – as well as sending out flyers to local residents and businesses.
“Feedback received to date has been more positive, however at the time of writing the consultation is still running, therefore finalised feedback will be passed to the planning service in due course for their information,” it said.
The documents also say that local suppliers which already have from trading partnerships with the Lerwick and Brae Co-ops will benefit from having a further outlet to stock their items.
The planning statement, meanwhile, states that the two proposed shops will run purely on renewable energy.
It concludes that the two stores “fully aligns with planning policy at both national and local level, aimed at encouraging business and investment to strengthen fragile rural economies, providing jobs and reducing the need to travel within the local community”.
While a number of strong representations have been made against the plans, some letters of support have also been submitted to the planning service.
A decision on the planning applications is expected later this year.
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