Delighted developers have highlighted Tayside as a growth target after securing permission for a multi-million pound Montrose retail park on the site of the town’s former distillery.
Kilmac Montrose have secured Home Bargains for the largest premises in a three-unit development at the Brechin Road site, which had been the intended location for a Sainsbury’s store until the plan collapsed.
Despite local opposition over fears of potential impact on Montrose town centre shops, Angus development standards committee unanimously backed the conditional approval recommendation of planning officials for a scheme councillors heard could help stem a near £30 million retail spend leakage per year to places like Dundee and Aberdeen.
Derek Ross of Kilmac told the committee the Home Bargains store should bring around 50 jobs to the town, with around 20/30 posts in the two smaller units.
The company acquired the site from Sainsbury’s last September and Mr Ross described the Montrose development as a “turnkey project”.
He said: “We see Tayside as an area for growth.
“The site was purchased with risk, knowing a change of planning (from the supermarket permission) would be required.
“Angus Council’s open-door approach in a series of high level meetings was welcome and we believe this presents a valuable opportunity for permanent employment,” added Mr Ross.
Local councillor Bill Duff said he was happy to support the plans for what he labelled “an untidy site”.
“There is some concern about how this will impact the high street; it’s significantly larger than anything on the high street so it’s going to be a different business.
“People often talk down our high streets but the number of empty properties has been pretty stable for the past nine or ten years and Montrose is pretty typical of Scotland’s town centres.
“This will provide retail and construction jobs, it will tidy up the site and I am very happy to support it.”
Arbroath councillor Alex King said Montrose should welcome the prospect of investment with open arms.
“For me this is a bit of déjà vu and reminds me of the Westway saga in Arbroath,” he said.
“That site is now thriving and people flock to it.
“This is an exciting development, it will be good for Montrose and I don’t think the high street will suffer in any real way at all.”