Councillors over-rule own planners and grant green light to supermarket
By Bill Heaney
West Dunbartonshire Council have rejected their own council officers’ advice and given planning permission for a new £6 million store after a long-running saga over the design of the building.
The site for the new store is in Castle Street which has Dumbarton Rock and the confluence of the Rivers Clyde and Leven as a stunning background.
Previous design submission were “unacceptable” to the council officials who had compared them to “no more than a retail box”.
But the elected members have now over-ruled them and the official advice has been thrown out.
Lidl say the store will create 40 jobs. There will also be a new access, car parking and landscaping on the site, which will be shared with a new housing development.
The houses will snake along the riverbank from Riverside Parish Church, past Morrison’s supermarket and out to Dumbarton FC’s stadium at the Rock.
Planning officers had compared the new designs to a “retail box” and urged the developers to come up with a “very high standard of urban design given its setting and surroundings”.
This suggests that Dumbarton will be getting a store that’s second rate from a design perspective.
Lidl themselves have emphasised the benefits to the community over the design.
Their spokesperson said: “ It is our strong belief that our plans for a new Lidl store will be of enormous benefit to the local community.”
Not only would the new store enhance the shopping experience and create new jobs for the community, it would secure long term investment in Dumbarton.
The updated plans were approved by 6-2 and a motion for further delay defeated.
Lidl claim to have taken aboard the previous criticisms of the road access, external shop design and the shop frontage.
The company says it has “received notably strong support from the local community with the two neighbouring development sites not objecting to Lidl’s intended development”.
The site for the new Lidl supermarket (left) on the distillery site in Castle Street, Dumbarton. Picture by Bill Heaney
Points in favour of the development which will stand on the site of the old Hiram Walker distillery were outlined by Lidl representatives: The development would include a modern new concept Lidl store and six further retail units.
There will be a large, free car park for customers extending to 241 spaces for the whole development.
The retail use fits with the function of Dumbarton town centre and, according to Lidl, won’t compete with the High Street shops or the St James Retail Park.
The development would turn a vacant, brownfield site back to productive use and to provide the local community with further shopping options in the town.The development would provide new additional jobs for Dumbarton – expected to be around 100 when the development is completed – the Lidl store alone would bring up to 40 new jobs. Lidl are a ‘Living Wage’ employer with salaries starting at £8.75 per hour.
The development would help the Council to deliver the proposed waterfront walkway, linking the town centre around the riverside to the Dumbarton Rock through the Lidl site.
Surveys have shown that traffic impact won’t cause congestion on the existing road network and that there will be no harm to local wildlife and habitats with no negative impact on flooding or drainage.