Whithorn residents hear store could be open next year

Representatives of the developers hoping to build a new supermarket on the outskirts of Newton Stewart told Whithorn residents the store could be open within a year if planning permission is given.

James Harbison and Richard Grierson from CWP were the guests of the Royal Burgh of Whithorn and District Community Council at their monthly meeting in the Community Centre on Monday night.

A handful of residents and business people in the town attended the meeting to hear Mr Harbison give a short presentation on their proposal and answer their questions afterwards.

He said that the planning application would be lodged with Dumfries and Galloway Council within the next couple of weeks and he hoped that it would then be brought before the council’s planning committee in the autumn. If the supermarket then got the green light he was confident that they could get the store built within a year.

The planning expert explained that the proposed 30,000 store, with 160 car parking spaces and a petrol filling station, which he classed as “medium sized”, would provide not just food but other items that seemed to be hard to get locally.

“There is market for food and non-food” he said.

Mr Harbison made a comparison with the Tesco supermarket in Castle Douglas which, he said, had not had a significant effect on traders in the town, who were “still operating well”.

He hoped that the supermarket would stop the town of Newton Stewart leaking shoppers every weekend to larger supermarkets in Stranraer, Ayr, Girvan, Castle Douglas and Dumfries. They were hopeful of providing 150 new jobs, make up of full time and part time positions. He could not confirm what retailer it would be as he did not know yet.

A petrol station would also be an advantage for the locals and those travelling on the A75 as the major supermarket chains had a national fuel price policy meaning it would be the same price in Glasgow as in Newton Stewart.

When it came to questions from the floor, Kirsty Currie said she didn’t think you could compare Castle Douglas and Newton Stewart as being like for like as the Stewartry store was not allowed to have a deli, a butcher or a baker in store. Mr Harbison said that there might well be restrictions imposed by the planners in the future on what was acceptable of not for a Newton Stewart store.

Richard Grierson confirmed that a retail impact assessment and a feasibility study would be carried out in the town and this would go forward to the planners. All that information plus the results of any consultation with the local communities would be in the public domain as part of the planning application process.

Whithorn resident Jim McCulloch said he was delighted that there was the possibility of a new store coming to the area. He said that his family were travelling to Ayr to shop.

He said: “These has been a lot of scare mongering in the local papers that a supermarket will shut shops in the town but I think they should be congratulated for bringing jobs to the town.”

CC chairman Francis O’Neill asked about people in area like Whithorn who did not have a car and had to rely on public transport to get to supermarkets.

Mr Harbison said that they could look at options like putting on a ‘shoppers bus’ or even have a delivery service.