Iceland receives green light for Elgin site
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PLANNING conditions have been amended to allow Iceland to come to Elgin.
The convenience food retailer wants to open a supermarket at Elgin Retail Park on Edgar Road using its Food Warehouse brand.
This morning, members of the local authority’s planning and regulatory services committee agreed to amend conditions which prohibit the sale of food and drink for Unit 3 at the retail park.
Approval for the applicants – Robertson Of Elgin Executive Retirement Fund – came despite an objection from Elgin Business Improvement District (BID) which called on the local authority to uphold Town Centre First policies.
Planning officers said the applicants had considered vacant sites in the town centre but they were found to be unsuitable due to issues ranging from not enough floor space to a lack of access for trolley-to-car shopping.
A report to councillors, which recommended approval, stated: “In this instance it is considered that allowing unrestricted food retail from one unit within the retail park will not detract from the character, function and role of the Edgar Road Retail Park or adversely impact on the town centre.”
Councillor George Alexander (Forres) questioned whether it was the "thin edge of the wedge".
Cllr Alexander said: "I’m quite sure these units were built on the condition there was no food retail and we are making an exception in this case.
"It concerns me because the other day when I went out to the High Street to find an apple and a banana for my lunch, I had to walk all the way to Marks & Spencers to find a shop that sold fruit on the High Street.
"The one opposite only had vegetables and I wasn’t going to chew on an onion.
"I’m slightly concerned about the idea of letting more food retail go down to Edgar Road and maybe it is time we made a stand to stop this happening."
Fellow Forres member Claire Feaver said it was time the authority "walked the walk" when it came to climate change.
"If we have to get into a car to get from the High Street to go and buy some fruit and vegetables, really it is a backward step," she said.
But Speyside/Glenlivet councillor Louise Laing said it would bring more choice for shoppers and argued sometimes a car is needed.
"It is quite difficult with lots of bags of shopping to put them on your bike or to get on the bus when there are no buses going that way – we have a lack of buses on Speyside so it is quite difficult," she said.
Cllr Paula Coy (Elgin City North) said flexibility was key, adding: "It seems a natural place for a place like this particular retailer to go. You want to take your car, you want to take a trolley to your car; it is not the kind of shop you will pop into for a banana.
"There has to be flexibility. A small greengrocers is not the same as a very large retailer."
And Fochabers/Lhanbryde Cllr Marc Macrae highlighted benefits for economic development. He said: "A key priority of our previous administration and I’d imagine the current administration is the economic development of Moray and whilst protecting our town centres is vital, it is important we do take cognisance of such applications, given the employment potential."
After a 15-minute debate, the application to vary the planning condition was unanimously approved.