Offering an olive branch

HAVING led the opposition against Sainsbury’s proposal to build a store in Motherwell, Chester Properties have offered an olive branch to the supermarket giant.

The owners of Brandon Shopping Centre revealed earlier this year that Sainsbury’s snubbed Brandon Parade East in favour of the former bus garage site on Hamilton Road.

Since then Chester have developed plans for a 60,000 sq ft cantilevered supermarket in Brandon Parade East and have asked Sainsbury’s if, as their Hamilton Road application was rejected, they would like to reconsider.

Tom Tyler of Chester Properties said: “We recognise that our supermarket is a totally different proposition to the one Sainsbury’s wanted to build in Hamilton Road.

“But if they are interested in a traditional supermarket in the heart of an established town centre, we would love to welcome them to our new development.

“Sainsbury’s have a very attractive offering and would be an asset to the town centre.”

Mr Tyler also revealed that three empty units in the shopping centre are under offer, which would only leave four.

He added: “That would be a fantastic achievement in the current economic climate, and makes Motherwell potentially attractive to other supermarket operators, some of whom might have been deterred by the prospect of a superstore on the edge of town.”

In the Scottish Parliament, local government and planning minister Derek Mackay hinted that Sainsbury’s may wish to appeal.

On being questioned by Cumbernauld and Kilsyth MSP Jamie Hepburn on whether the council had to stick to the local plan, he said: “Decisions and determinations on applications can depart from the zoning of a local plan if material considerations allow that.

“Economic benefit would be one such material consideration, so in some cases complete adherence to the local plan might not be delivered because circumstances lead to another conclusion.”

Mr Hepburn said: “I am flabbergasted that the local authority would take such a decision, given the number of people that are presently looking for work.”