Milngavie WILL get Waitrose store

Waitrose

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WAITROSE will set up shop in Milngavie after councillors voted through store plans last night.

The upmarket retailer will build on land owned by West rugby club, next to the Burnbrae Roundabout.

Construction will start later this year and Waitrose will be open for business in 2014.

Planning permission was granted subject to certain conditions being agreed which may include contributions towards the A81 route corridor strategy and other works.

West, who backed the plan, will get a new state of the art pitch out of the deal, which will also bring 180 jobs.

Councillors voted against the recomendation of planning officials in granting the request.

Planners feared that Waitrose setting up shop could adversely affect local retailers.

However, store bosses argued that the opposite was true - that Waitrose brings people into areas where it is established.

Speaking at the meeting, Richard Lewis, property director for developers Town Centre Securities said: “This high quality store will secure the future of West of Scotland rugby club as they receive an annual income should this go through tonight.

“We are a long term investor and we already own Waitrose on Byres Road in Glasgow.

“It is our intention to build this high quality store - we have the capability and we do what we say.”

Gordon Cairns, vice president of West of Scotland rugby club, said: “We are one of the oldest rugby clubs in the world - we’ve been here for over 60 years.

“Over 70 players have been capped for Scotland and we are run by 100 volunteers with over 250 kids enjoying the local sport.

“For a long time West has been asset rich but income poor and now we want to capitalise on our assets to ensure the future of the club.

“For seven years we had an agreement with Cala Homes but despite much negotiation they were unable to provide a site for us. The move could not be afforded.”

Chris Mitchell from Keppie Planning, said: “We want to see West stay in the club’s historical home.

“The grounds have been the focus of many events such as Bearsden and Milngavie Highland Games, the fireworks display etc.

“The club is firmly rooted in the Milngavie community and local people ask you to grant this application and allow us to move on.”

Martin Gorman, spokesperson for Waitrose, said: “We have a binding legal agreement to build a store and we have been looking for a site in Milngavie for several years.

“We’ve had a desire to see a new Waitrose in East Dunbartonshire since 2010.

“Burnbrae was acknowledged by officers as the most suitable site and we are careful to open shops in areas where they will do well.

“We will offer long-term employment with a local recruitment drive.

“We’re excited and looking forward to coming to Milngavie and working with existing traders.

“A vibrant town centre will benefit everyone and our store manager will be active within the community.”

Local resident Jean Horn said: “Waitrose has good employment ethics and believes in ethical food production. I would choose to shop there.

“This application would also ensure the survival of West and might lesson the need for a large Tesco store.”

Fiona Risk, chairperson of Milngavie Community Council, spoke out against the application on the night as an individual because the community council is split over the issue.

She said: “This application is contrary to East Dunbartonshire Local Plan 2, Scottish Government planning policies and the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Strategic Development Plan.

“Like most other twon centres Milngavie is fighting for its survival.

“If granted this application would set an extremely dangerous precedent which could threaten every town centre in East Dunbartonshire with out of town development.

“Any developer could point to Milngavie as an example as to why they should be allowed to build an out of town development.”

She added: “The store may draw people to the Milngavie area from a wide region but these shoppers will not then be drawn to Milngavie town centre as there would be no reason to get back into their car and drive there from Waitrose which will have everything they need including a cafe.

“The projected drop in trade for small shops in Milngavie ranges from seven to 13 per cent - this means not only no profit but closure.

“I never thought I would argue for Tesco or M&S but their projected drop in sales ranges from 28 per cent to 36 and 12 to 22 - these are anchor stores in Milngavie.”

The owner of Art Forum in Milngavie, Rona Miller, said: “The site for Waitrose is not a ‘short walk’ from either Milngavie or Bearsden town centre and this will stop any linked trips.

“I believe lots of people who use Milngavie town centre for food shopping will go directly to waitrose as there will be ample parking and they will have no need to go to Bearsden or Milngavie town centres.

“I also feel the site is far too small for the proposed size of store - how is this area going to cope with the extra traffic?”

Callum Christie, spokesperson for Milngavie Community Council, said: “There was a strong and unanimous feeling within the community council that it would have been much easier to consider the merits of this application had there been a Masterplan for Milngavie town centre and its environs.”

They raised several concerns including - traffic, especially at the roundabout near Homebase, the lack of a pavement for pedestrians along Glasgow Road, claimed that part of the site is prone to flooding, and mentioned the impact the store would have on Bearsden and Milngavie town centres.