Councillors respond to local demand for new supermarket in Stonehaven

Outline plans for a new supermarket in Stonehaven have been approved by councillors in response to local demand for more consumer choice in the town.

At a meeting of the Full Council, four applications centred on the town, which all contained a supermarket within their proposals, were discussed by councillors.

Following a vote, planning permission in principle was approved for a commercial development comprising a 3,750m2 supermarket, 50 bedroom hotel and restaurant.

Included are associated access roads, car parking and landscaping on the site, on land at the Ury Estate, off the A957 Slug Road to Banchory and adjacent to the A90.

Stonehaven is currently only directly served by one supermarket – the David Street Co-op store, which is smaller than the new store would be.

Three other applications for different sites around the town, some of which included proposals for petrol stations and hundreds of houses, were rejected.

All four planning applications were considered by the Full Council as a result of being contrary to a number of planning policies and the Local Development Plan.

Officers had recommended refusal of all four applications for a range of reasons which were presented to the committee, but a motion by local councillor Graeme Clark (Stonehaven and Lower Deeside) to approve the Ury Estate plan was successful, having been seconded by another local councillor, Raymond Christie.

The main reason this plan was recommended for refusal was its potential impact on the viability of the town centre.

An amendment by Councillor Paul Johnstone (Mid Formartine) to refuse the application was defeated following a vote, by 27 votes to 18.

Addressing Full Council, Cllr Clark said that having previously been opposed to the proposal due to the possible impact on the town centre, he had changed his mind.

Local people had been demanding a choice of supermarket for years and believed competition could help lower the prices of goods, he said.

Cllr Clark also pointed to the loss in recent years of a number of hotels and bed and breakfast facilities around the traditional seaside tourist town.

He suggested that could be addressed by the hotel element of the plans and said he also preferred this proposal, given no housing development was included.

“Stonehaven is a special place,” said Cllr Clark. “The last thing we want to do as councillors is spoil it.

“We’re under increasing pressure from locals – the Business Association, Stonehaven Town Partnership, the community council are all asking ‘how come Stonehaven doesn’t have a supermarket?’

“Stonehaven people won’t understand if we turn it down once again.”

Chairman of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee, Carl Nelson, pointed out that this proposal had previously been supported unanimously by local councillors.

He said it would “be of great benefit” to the people of Stonehaven.

Officers had sought the advice of an independent retail expert in relation to all four of the proposals for supermarkets before the council.

It was advised that while a supermarket at the Ury Estate would reduce expenditure leakage for convenience goods and meet retail needs of local consumers, it would result in “significant adverse retail impacts on the town centre”.

The expert concluded it will undermine the “vitality and viability” of the town centre.

Earlier in the discussion, it was proposed all four applications be refused to be considered under the terms of the emerging new Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan, expected to be adopted as a blueprint for future development in the area around the end of 2016. 

As none of the sites where supermarkets were proposed are included for such development in the new plan, that decision would have been examined as part of a Public Inquiry before the new development plan could be adopted and implemented.

Concern had been expressed by the community about a town centre site allocated in the development plan for a supermarket at Spurryhillock.

Councillors heard the site is currently occupied and there are constraints to bringing the site forward for development, including land ownership issues.

Further information relating to all four planning applications can be found in the related reports to Full Council on our website.