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Community / Scalloway Community Council remains opposed to Co-op plan

Members have questioned the credibility of a retail impact assessment commissioned by the developer

SCALLOWAY Community Council is maintaining its objection against plans for a Co-op store at East Voe despite the developer claiming the plans would not endanger the long-term viability of local shops.

In response the community council has said a retail impact assessment commissioned by the developer “contains a significant number of inconsistencies, inaccuracies and doubtful use of statistics that seriously affect its credibility”.

It also attacked the credibility of an associated planning statement, which it said contained “assertions with no evidence or basis to back them up”.

The community council’s views is that a new Co-op shop at East Voe would threaten the future sustainability of the centre of Scalloway, as well as the long-term development of the waterfront and centre.

It says in a letter to the local planning service that the proposals are “at odds with the recent Scottish Government investment in the area through the Town Centre Fund”.

The community council’s letter is the latest contribution in a heated debate around the potential knock-on effect of having a new Co-op not only in East Voe but also in Sandwick.

Shetland Islands Council’s economic development manager Tommy Coutts recently wrote to the planning department to challenge some assumptions around the effect on rural shops, but the develop responded with gusto.

An agency writing on behalf of the developer said the “viability of existing rural shops, as well as the vitality and viability of Lerwick town centre, would not be affected by the proposal” – adding that the developments are compliant with planning policy.

Building the two convenience stories at East Voe and at Stove, Sandwick, would represent an investment in the region of £2.4 million, according to property developer Seamount.

Once completed around 20 full and part-time retail jobs are said to be created at each location.

The Co-op has always said it would stock local produce and enhance the shopping experience in Shetland, providing greater choice in Scalloway and Sandwick.

The two planning applications remain under consideration.