Co-op fears Asda presence in Dunbar

Fears that a new Asda supermarket development at Hallhill/Lochend, Dunbar, would have a "devastating effect" on retailing in the town centre – including the closure of the Co-op supermarket – were expressed at a public inquiry into the plan.

Colin Innes, a solicitor acting for 'The Retailers Group' of Lothian Borders and Angus Co-operative Society Ltd, Somerfield Stores Ltd and the Scottish Grocers Federation, made the comment in his closing submission last Wednesday.

The inquiry, before Scottish Executive reporter Malcolm Smith, lasted six days at the Goldenstones Hotel and involved statements from a variety of interested parties for and against the project which also includes a hotel, restaurants, fuel filling station and tourist information centre.

He will now prepare a report of his findings which will be put before Scottish Ministers for a decision later in the year.

Mr Innes told the inquiry: "In my submission the evidence at this inquiry has demonstrated that the proposal is unacceptable on retail policy grounds.

"Simply put, this proposal would have a devastating effect on retailing within the town centre and should be refused on that basis."

Gordon Wilks, the Co-op's development and property controller, had earlier warned the inquiry that the Asda plan would cause the closure of the Co-op supermarket at Friarscroft and "threaten the vitality of Dunbar town centre."

But Heriot Currie QC, acting for East Lothian Council which approved the Asda plan, stressed: "The council was alert to the potential threat to the vitality and viability of the town centre from an out of centre or edge of centre supermarket."

Full report in the East Lothian News, April 29, 2005

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