Like so many other local retailers these days, we are now facing the uncomfortable prospect of a multiple competitor opening up on our very doorstep. In our case, the threat is coming from a new Aldi store which the company is hoping to build on two neighbouring pieces of land which recently came up for sale at the same time.
The land currently belongs to Edinburgh City Council and the Church of Scotland, and together would make a site of sufficient size to build a store. This is despite the fact that the council had previously earmarked the site for affordable housing. In addition, the congregation of the doomed parish church had lobbied hard to persuade the Church to only sell the land for use as a community amenity!
But of course as always, money talks, and of the eleven bids, two of which were for a housing option, Aldi’s was the highest by a considerable margin. All is not lost, however. The sale is of course subject to planning, and we are marshalling our troops to fight it on several grounds, including traffic, neighbour nuisance and licensing. Our MSP is also backing us to the hilt, and has leafleted 3,000 local homes on the issue.
Quite apart from the threat to livelihood of up to 14 local small businesses, this is an area of acute housing shortage. When a council property here becomes vacant, on average 500 people put in bids for it. The land in question could accommodate up to 70 flats, which would go a long way to helping residents of this community find a decent place to live.
So with political support from all parties, MPs, MSP and councillors, plus the two local Community Councils, the Association of Convenience Stores, Scottish Grocers Federation and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, not to mention literally hundreds of local people, we will be fighting this all the way. Watch this space!