Confusion mars debate over Maybole supermarket plans

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CONFUSION abounded at County Buildings last week as rival supermarket plans for Maybole went before the Council’s planning committee.

The Cooperative Group put in a planning application for a class one supermarket on derelict land at Ladyland Road in October - just months after a rival Tesco application earmarked land northeast of the town centre in March.

And the two proposals’ relationship to each other caused mayhem in the minds of the elected members charged with deciding which, if either, would go ahead.

Council planning officers had recommended the proposed 1.03-hectare Tesco site on former industrial land at 8 Cassilis Road for approval, while the smaller Co-op site at Ladyland Road southwest of the town centre was recommended for refusal.

But this alone caused controversy as an agent for the Co-op, Michael Stone, accused council planning officers of deliberately misleading and confusing the applicants after having been initially enthusiastic about the plans.

He claimed The Cooperative, which hoped to maintain their existing High Street store simultaneously if viable, was extremely disappointed by their application’s recommendation for refusal.

Community representatives were also vociferous regarding the proposed Co-op site, with Maybole Community Council vice-chair Michael Connell and Councillor Brian Connolly both stepping up to the mark.

Maybole Community Council had stated in their consultation response that access into and out of the Tesco site at Cassilis Road could be problematic, and Mr Connell said at last Thursday’s committee meeting that the Ladyland Road location of the Co-op’s plans was still the more suitable site.

He claimed the town‘s “dangerous” High Street would discourage pedestrians seeking to shop at Tesco, as well as raising safety concerns over the proximity of local primaries Cairn and St Cuthbert’s to the Tesco site.

Councillor Connolly also put in a plea for the Tesco site to be rejected. “We have got a site that is bordered by a trunk road that is just disgraceful versus one that is at the heart of the community. To me, in terms of what the town needs, there is absolutely no doubt what is the best site,” he said.

But the elected members appeared unswayed by the representations - in fact remaining unsure whether a vote would be taken that day at all.

Committee chairman Peter Connelly felt a site visit coming on, but after a bungled vote in which the site visit and determination were confused this was overturned and an immediate decision required.

The Tesco application was approved with a vote of four in favour to three against, and brought about fears for a negative “cumulative effect” on the town’s small business population were a second supermarket application to get the thumbs up.

As such, the Cooperative left the meeting disappointed, and say they are now considering their options.