Store wars flare over legal move to stop Viewpark Asda

An artist's impression of how the new Viewpark Asda would look
An artist's impression of how the new Viewpark Asda would look

A war of words has erupted over a legal move by Scotmid to prevent rivals Asda from opening a new store in Viewpark.

Scotmid is challenging North Lanarkshire Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the new store and has applied to the Court of Session for a judicial review.

The firm is unhappy that councillors overturned a recommendation by officials to refuse consent and claims that ‘due process’ was not followed.

Scotmid, which operates several outlets in Viewpark and Tannochside, also said it was trying to protect a long standing investment in the area.

But the move sparked an angry response from Asda who said the project had the ‘unanimous’ support of the local community and that the Scotmid move could delay the opening of the store by a year.

A hearing to discuss the Scotmid move is likely to be held at the Court of Session in Edinburgh next month.

But Scotmid’s legal challenge has angered local councillor Bob Burrows who said the community in the area were behind the new store in Laburnum Road.

He said: “I am disappointed that the start of this development might be delayed due to a petition lodged by Scotmid.

“It was clear that the vast majority of residents within the Thorniewood ward were very keen to have the Asda built in the Viewpark area.

“The planning committee took on board all the issues that were raised and came to a unanimous decision to award planning. I hope this is not a stalling process by Scotmid as any delay in the Asda build is a loss to the many residents from the area who will certainly exercise their right and shop in the new store.”

Asda also expressed ‘extreme disappointment’ at the Scotmid move. Senior property communications manager Lisa Rooke said: “This legal challenge could delay the construction of our new store by up to a year.

“This is despite the fact that the application won unanimous support from the council and has also been welcomed by many residents in the local community.

“This challenge will not only result in additional costs and delays to the project but also in our ability to deliver investment and new employment opportunities.

“I am sure that people locally will share our disappointment and we hope that Scotmid will reconsider their actions in the interests of the local community.”

But Scotmid say they are unhappy that councillors went against a recommendation by council officials to refuse Asda planning permission for a new Viewpark store.

Planners on North Lanarkshire Council wanted councillors to turn down the application on the grounds that the proposed store would have an adverse effect on Bellshill town centre.

A spokesperson for Scotmid Co-operative said, “We have reluctantly been forced down the road of seeking a Judicial Review.

“This is simply because the highly experienced planning officers of North Lanarkshire Council recommended refusal of the development on sound planning grounds. However, for whatever reason or reasons councillors overrode that decision.

“We believe that proper due process in the councillors’ decision was not followed. All we are asking for here is a level playing field.

“It is interesting to see Asda talking about the Judicial Review delaying investment and jobs. I would like to point out that by going for a Judicial Review we are attempting to protect our long standing investment in the area and also to protect the jobs of our staff.”

However a council spokesperson said it would oppose Scotmid’s challenge to the decision-reaching process.

He added: “The council has taken legal advice on the matter, and will be defending its position vigorously.”

* Planning consent for the store was granted by North Lanarkshire Council last September.

* More than 1,000 people signed a petition supporting the store.

* The store is expected to cost £15 million and create 200 in-store jobs plus another 200 during construction.

* To compensate for the loss of a sporting facility - the site is currently used for training by St Columba’s Boys’ Club - * Asda has agreed to upgrade the nearby Burnhead playing fields to two full size grass pitches with training area and upgraded changing rooms in the community centre.

* A two-day public consultation exercise on its proposals was carried out by Asda in December 2012.

* The layout of the original plans were changed after concern by local residents that the proposed location for a filling station was too close to John Paul II Primary School