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Business / New supermarkets would have no impact on smaller shops, developer insists

Company behind plans for two new Co-op convenience stores submits further documentation in support of its planning applications

Photo: Malcolm Younger for Shetland News

BUILDING two new supermarkets in Scalloway and Sandwick will neither have a detrimental impact on local shops nor on Lerwick town centre, according to the company behind the controversial proposal.

Seamount Property Development, acting on behalf of the Co-op, has now submitted further documentation to the local planning authority in support of its proposals, including a retail impact assessment and an economic statement.

The plans by the national retailer first emerged in March this year, sending shockwaves through the local retail and small producers sector.

They predicted that a number of independently owned local shops could close and many more jobs would be lost than created by the two new convenience stores.

The controversy prompted isles MP Alistair Carmichael to write the council’s planning department urging officials to carefully consider how their decision would shape the local retail environment.

But Seamount points out in its planning statements for two supermarkets that any such concerns were irrelevant as competition between local businesses is not a material planning consideration.

Seamount Property Development director Alastair Ness said the company’s plans complied with local planning policies, would enhance choice for consumers, and cut down on unnecessary shopping trips to Lerwick.

“Our planning statement presents a robust justification for the proposals demonstrating both applications compliance with planning policies at a local and national level as well as other material considerations,” Ness said.

“As for the retail impact assessment and economic statement, it clearly demonstrates that our proposals will not have a discernible impact on the vitality or viability of Lerwick town centre or on the shopping facilities within rural/village areas including Sandwick and Scalloway.”

Seamount said building the two convenience stories at East Voe, Scalloway, and at Stove, Sandwick, would represent an investment in the region of £2.4 million. Once completed around 20 full and part-time retail jobs would be created at each location.

“We are also committed to using a local Shetland based contractor to carry out the construction of both stores which will also go some way to supporting local jobs,” Ness added.

The two stores would complement the Co-op’s existing supermarkets at Lerwick and Brae.