SHOP STAFF FEAR JOB LOSSES
Traders in the Village reckon the decision to grant Lidl planning permission for a new store on the former site of Atholl House will be “devastating” for small businesses.
The supermarket chain was given the go-ahead by 11 votes to 10 for an outlet on the landmark site.
Previous applications for a much larger superstore – thought to be Asda – were rejected by South Lanarkshire Council, whose decision was upheld in 2014 following a public inquiry instigated by owners of the land, Ediston Opportunity Fund.
But council officers deemed the much smaller Lidl store as a development which would “enhance the retail offer” in East Kilbride and said a study carried out on behalf of the local authority found that the Village would not be impacted by the development.
However, this conclusion has been rubbished by a number of small independent business owners and East Mains Community Council.
Wright the Butchers owner Stephen Sherriff told the News he and his staff are anxious about their futures following last week’s decision.
“I believe this could be devastating for the Village and small independent traders like ourselves,” he said.
“The retail consortium employed by the council said this would have no impact on the Village – how anyone could think a discounter with 124 free parking spaces could have no impact is beyond me.
“I want to know what that decision was based on and how they came to that conclusion.”
Stephen went on: “I have nothing against Lidl personally or giving the people of East Kilbride choice but this is simply the wrong site.
“Parking in the Village will now have to be looked at as our customers are constantly hounded by an overzealous parking regime in Glebe Street and Hunter Street.
“My staff are very anxious about their futures and the impact this could have on us.”
He added: “I know of a butcher elsewhere who had a discounter move near him and saw his turnover halve in a year.
“There are small family businesses who have been in the Village for a long time – 50 or 70 years – and simply can’t compete.
“At the end of the day it’s well documented that small retailers everywhere are having a difficult time.”
Florist Moira Murray, whose family have owned Grants for more than 70 years, said: “My mum had the business before me and we must be one of the oldest businesses in the Village.
“All the small business will be affected by Lidl and it certainly isn’t going to do us any good so we are all worried.
“The supermarkets can undercut us.
“There is no passing trade largely down to the big stores and we rely on the local churches and schools and special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and other events such as funerals.”
Louise Wright, who owns Loupin Stane coffee shop, said: “Lidl is not going to do anything to help businesses in the Village, that’s for sure.
“There is more and more competition for food and eating establishments and the council don’t do anything to encourage people to come into the Village and support the local businesses.
“This will simply discourage them further.”
East Mains Community Council objected to the proposal and are now calling for the local authority to set up a committee to help revitalise the Village.
Chair Bill Arthur said: “We are extremely disappointed with the decision and the detrimental effect it will have on the Village.
“For years now we have been constantly striving to enhance the vibrancy of the area and encourage more people to use the Village and support local traders and this just
My staff are very anxious about their futures and the impact this could have on us...
flies in the face of that.
“Despite what was stated in the report before the committee, we still believe it is contrary to the local development plan.
“We are now calling on the council to set up a committee to enhance the facilities and the vibrancy of the Village by encouraging footfall, offsetting any damage this may do.”
The community council and traders also fear increased traffic congestion in and around Churchill Avenue – where the supermarket will be accessed from.
East Mains Community Council secretary Jean Aitken added: “There is a busy secondary school and a church right next to this development.
“More traffic will be generated and it will become more even hazardous for pupils and others in the area.”
Concerns were also raised over unauthorised parking on streets with permits, such as Whitemoss Avenue, at peak times and the repercussions for residents. East Kilbride Central North Labour councillor Joe Fagan, speaking as an objector, and Independent Jim Wardhaugh – backed by the SNP’s Archie Buchanan – made lastditch pleas on behalf of traders at last week’s meeting. However, they were unsuccessful in persuading planning committee councillors to go against the recommendation of local authority officers. Cllr Fagan said: “I welcome the interest that Lidl have shown in East Kilbride. “But, in my opinion, there was a more appropriate site for this development that was the largely vacant Olympia area of the town centre. “That would have allowed a new budget supermarket into the town, with the Centre willing to do a deal on parking, without diverting trade away from the town centre. “And it
Development site The former Atholl House was ripped down in 2016 after a warrant was granted by South Lanarkshire Council
Wrong decision Traders, community representatives and EK Housing Forum all objected to the Lidl store being given the go-ahead Devastating impact Traders fear Lidl could drive customers away from the Village
Fears Bill Arthur wants a committee set up to secure the long-term future of the Village