MONTROSE will get its new Sainsbury’s store after councillors this week voted overwhelmingly to reject planners’ recommendations to refuse the proposal.
Around 30 local supporters attended Tuesday’s development standards committee meeting in Forfar which included Councillors David May and Sandy West as well as Hillside Community Council chairwoman Kathleen Ritchie, Ferryden Community Council chairman Gordon Brown and Chris Banks from the Montrose Business and Retailers’ Association.
The company predicts the store, which has received overwhelming local backing from the public and business community, will create up to 200 full and part-time jobs for local people as well as support food and drink suppliers in the area. It has also said the project will create construction jobs, representing a spin-off to the wider Angus economy.
Refusal had been recommended on the grounds of insufficient parking but committee member Councillor Mark Salmond moved an amendment, seconded by Councillor David Fairweather, that the plans be approved which received unanimous backing.
After the meeting Mr May said councillors had seen the benefit of “flexibility” in applying council policy and that it sent out the message that Angus is “open for business”.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted about it. It’s good news for Montrose in terms of cheaper goods and competition but it will also be a considerable boost to employment in the town. It sends the clear message to businesses everywhere that we are open for business and keen to attract that business to Montrose and to Angus.
“This is the first of the stores to come to Angus and, personally, I hope it’s the first of several. It does deviate from council policy but we should show flexibility in respect of council guidelines and councillors saw the benefit of that.”
Sainsbury’s submitted revised plans for the Brechin Road store in mid-March after an earlier application was turned down, also due to insufficient parking. These now include a smaller store of 22,500 sq ft with 190 car parking spaces, instead of 172, to help meet planning policy, along with some additional tree planting and soft landscaping.
But in his report to the committee, infrastructure services director Eric Lowson said that while the new plans comply with national planning policy, parking provision still fell short of that required by the council by 20%.
Sainsbury’s last week contacted all those who completed comment cards at an exhibition of the plans in April and, in conjunction with the three local community councils, provided transport for supporters to Tuesday’s council meeting.
The company also held a drop-in session at the Links Hotel on Monday evening for supporters to ask questions before the meeting, which attracted 14 local people.
Mr May led calls at the meeting for the application to be approved, saying the development would be beneficial to Montrose and Angus as a whole.
He said: “In my view, backing Sainsbury’s would increase competition with the other big supermarkets and help to drive down prices which is particularly important given the state of the economy.
“I am particularly impressed with the role that Sainsbury’s play in using local sourcing of products. This would also be beneficial for our Angus and regional food producers and as a consequence food being fresher.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said the new store could be completed within the next year and that the company is “delighted with the decision”.
He said: “We’ll move this forward in the coming weeks but we say ‘thank you’ to the people of Montrose because over the last 18 months to two years they have stuck with us and been patient and supportive.
“They were supportive when the plans were put forward and supportive again in April and to sit in a room with 30 members of the public and four community leaders is a massive endorsement of what we’re trying to do.”