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Business / Planning staff recommend councillors approve East Voe Co-op application

Photo: Malcolm Younger for Shetland News

MEMBERS of Shetland Islands Council’s planning committee will be recommended to approve controversial proposals for a Co-op store at East Voe in Scalloway.

The development will go in front of the committee on 6 December.

A report to councillors from the planning department says the project complies with “all the relevant policies” of the local development plan.

A similar Co-op store in Sandwick has already been given the planning go-ahead by officers.

The Scalloway one is going in front of councillors because of an objection from the local community council.

National retailer Co-op plans to build two new stores in Shetland – one at Stove in Sandwick and another at East Voe.

But the proposals provoked strong concern that they would have a negative impact on the existing local retail and wholesale sector – potentially leading to job losses.

The two stores in Sandwick and Scalloway would result in an investment from the Co-op worth £2.4 million. Around 40 new full and part time jobs would be created between the two.

They would be similar in size to the Brae Co-op.

In a report to councillors, the planning department said it is “clear that there is a level of disagreement on the economic impact the proposal will have on other retail enterprises” in the two areas.

But it states: “As the planning system in Scotland does not protect the interests of individual businesses that are likely to be in competition with one another the representations of objection in regards to this would not constitute a material planning consideration.”

The report also says objections over the impact of an East Voe Co-op on the recently adopted Scalloway Local Place Plan, and around the economic effect it could have on the centre of the village, cannot also be taken as a material consideration.

Planners say that the place plan “does not preclude by definition of implication that development cannot take place elsewhere”.

The report says in conclusion that the proposal would “provide employment opportunities, enhance local shopping provision in the local area and contribute to the viability of the existing settlement”.

Alastair Ness, director of property developer Seamount, said: “We are pleased that the planning officer has recommended that councillors approve our application for a new store at Scalloway.

“If consented, the store would create around 20 new full- and part-time jobs and an overall investment of £1.2 million. We hope that our proposals will allow the Co-op to have the opportunity to continue to support the islands and offer choice to customers.

“We understand that there are a mix of views towards our proposals but it is clear from our consultation that there is a significant level of support for a new convenience store in Scalloway.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank very everyone that took time to provide their feedback to us.”