Traders hit out at new superstore

SMALL businesses in Portobello are to petition against plans for a new superstore they claim will destroy their trade.

Edinburgh-based Duddingston House Properties wants to build a single-storey food store at the site of the former Scottish Power headquarters on Portobello High Street.

The developers say it will inject much-needed investment into the town, persuading residents to do their shopping locally.

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Objectors, however, claim the new store would "tear the heart out" of the close-knit community.

An outline planning application submitted to Edinburgh City Council seeks permission for a food store with a ground floor area of 60,000sq ft. A petrol filling station and car parking for 445 cars is also included in the proposals.

One of the objectors, local delicatessen owner Graham Kitchener, said a new supermarket could sound the death knell for small businesses.

"There are already seven supermarkets nearby and the loss of passing trade would mean game over for the small businesses in Portobello."

Mr Kitchener, who runs Kitchener’s Delicatessen on the High Street, has already started organising an opposition campaign and begun collecting signatures for a petition. He also spoke of the potential traffic problems and the danger of heavy trucks on what he described as an already busy road.

But Campbell Whyte, of Duddingston House Properties, said the development would be good for the area. "These proposals will inject much-needed investment into Portobello High Street. The frontage of the proposed store will ensure the street remains the focus for food shopping in the town.

"The state-of-the-art food store will create more competition and choice for local shoppers."

He said that his company was very keen to consult with local people and appreciated the commercial interests at stake.

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Mr Whyte added: "We know that local people travel out of Portobello to do their main food shopping - this proposal will address this and keep the spending in the town.

"It is widely expected that this multi-million pound investment in Portobello, the clean-up of the former industrial site and the creation of hundreds of local job opportunities will be seen as a positive boost for the town."

Chairman of the Portobello Amenities Society, Ian Stewart, also questioned the proposals, saying the development was near an outstanding conservation area.

He said: "We want the small, quality shops on Portobello High Street to remain a viable centre."

Sheila Scott, office manager of Findlay’s Butchers in Portobello, said: "Last year the road was closed for three months while they were laying water mains and it hit traders hard.

"We have been trying to bounce back but this development will have a devastating economic impact for businesses and also on the strong community spirit in Portobello."

She added: "People feel very strongly about it. We had 40 signatures on our petition in just half an hour."

Joe Findlay, who established the shop 18 years ago, said: "I’ve been in this situation before.

"My store in Rodney Street, Edinburgh, was forced to close after a large superstore was built. It killed the whole street."