Traders claim supermarket has no takers

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NEWTON Stewart’s SOS group of town centre traders (Save Our Street) and Wigtownshire Chamber of Commerce held a joint meeting this week to discuss the way forward after property developers CWP formally lodged their planning application for a new supermarket on the outskirts of the town.

Convened by the Chamber’s new chairman, Wolf Richthofen, the meeting gathered together both individual traders and representatives of other local supermarkets and convenience stores.

Discussions initially centered around the fact that the developers appear to be simply “taking a speculative punt” with regard to the Barnkirk application and have no specific buyer in mind at this stage, dashing the hopes of residents counting on the appearance of an Asda in the locality.

A group spokesperson said following the meeting: “If this is the case, it would be outrageous in the current economic climate for CWP to be promising 150 jobs when there would appear to be no supermarket behind this application and the chamber now challenges CWP to name the supermarket they say they have lined up to take over any new store.

“Our own enquiries suggest that there is no supermarket waiting to come to Newton Stewart over and above the existing stores already represented in the town, so this would very much appear to be a speculative application on the part of CWP which must now assure the people of Newton Stewart that these plans are not purely speculative.”

SOS and the chamber also discussed the potential planning and highways impacts to any proposed building project and agreed to call on local councillors and Cree Valley Community Council to meet with them.

The group spokesperson continued: “We already have the full support of Alex Fergusson MSP and will be consulting with all other relevant officials in the coming weeks to help formulate our objection to this planning application.”

A recent petition which surveyed locals and tourists alike was circulated around town centre traders and gathered over 3000 signatures.

However, meetings held locally before the summer showed huge support for the plans from residents crying out for cheaper shopping experiences and claiming the town was stuck in the past without a larger supermarket in the vicinity.

In response, a spokesman for the applicants said: “We are not in the business of taking speculative punts and this is a competent planning application - any £10 million investment in this economic climate with the prospect of bringing 150 new jobs should not be undervalued. We also remain entirely confident that we can deliver a big name operator to Newton Stewart for the considerable majority of local people who support our plans.”