TESCO’S plans to build a monster new superstore in Milngavie were sensationally blown out of the water this week in a move hailed as a massive victory for people power.
The supermarket giant had its appeal against a council decision to block them from building a two-storey store and two-storey car park knocked back by the Scottish Government - drawing a line under a controversy that sparked a ‘David Vs Goliath’ battle
Tesco lodged an appeal last year after councillors voted to reject their planning application against the advice of council planning officals - and it went to a public hearing.
Community group We Like Milngavie, which was set up to fight the plans, and the council presented a strong case at the hearing last month which was held in Kessington Hall, Bearsden.
Locals felt the store was too big for the area - they were concerned about the impact it would have on the landscape and the extra traffic it would generate.
There were fears that the scale of the proposed new store would suck the life out of Milngavie Precinct.
Robin Brown, Chairman of We Like Milngavie, said: “We’d like to thank all the local councillors who refused the application and defended the refusal at appeal, and also the national politicians of all parties who voiced their opposition to the proposal.
“We are also grateful to the 12 community groups whose support underlined that opposition was widespread and the local businesses and hundreds of individuals who generously gave time and money to enable David to confront Goliath.
“We have always accepted Tesco is valuable to Milngavie, and that their existing store should be modernised. We would welcome constructive dialogue with Tesco as the Reporter recommended.”
Milngavie MSP Des McNulty said: “Local people were rightly angry that Tesco sought to overturn the refusal of planning permission and that the costs of the appeal are to be met from the public purse.
“Tesco should now start a dialogue with local people. They need to scale back the size of the store and pay attention to the design issues that have been raised. If they fail to do that they will get the same level of opposition to any future proposal.”
Jo Swinson, MP for East Dunbartonshire, said: “I have always argued that Tesco needed to consider the community’s concerns, but instead they dismissed them, and refused to engage constructively with local groups about how the store could be modernised without detriment to the area.
“This decision is a real victory for the community and the unique town of Milngavie.”
SNP group leader and Bearsden North Councillor Ian Mackay said: “I’m delighted with the result. It shows the power of a unanimous planning board decision to refuse the original application by Tesco and the effect of a strong public campaign to oppose this development.
“I congratulate everyone who was involved.”
SNP MSP Gil Paterson said: “This is a common sense decision driven by the people of Milngavie.
“The Reporter has recognised this development was not suitable and has protected our local town centre and the small businesses that earn a living there.
“It also highlights the importance of planning inquiries to allow local people to have their say.”
Bearsden Councillor Ashay Ghai said: “This is a fantastic result for Milngavie and Bearsden too, which would also have felt the effects of such a large development.
“We owe a huge thanks to everyone who combined so effectively on the community’s behalf at the inquiry stage.”
Councillor Gordan Low, chair of East Dunbartonshire’s planning board, welcomed the decision, but noted that the Reporter didn’t share fears about traffic congestion or concerns over the adverse impact on retailing in Milngavie and Bearsden town centres.
A spokesperson for Tesco said: “We are obviously disappointed with the final conclusion of the Reporter. It is clear from his analysis that there are a number of real benefits to our proposals.
“Our plans would have brought substantial investment and new jobs to Milngavie as well as helping to keep people shopping in the town.
“We will now need to fully digest the report. We would like to thank our customers for their support.”