Councillors on the Planning, Protective Services and Licensing (PPSL) Committee approved unanimously an application for a new food store and petrol filling station in Helensburgh on Tuesday 21st February.
Approval for the Waitrose store was granted at the end of an eight-hour long Discretionary Hearing in Helensburgh’s Victoria Halls, attended by hundreds of people.
Councillors heard from dozens of supporters who presented a powerful case for why their town needs a good quality supermarket and second petrol station.
Their statements focused particularly on the amount of money that is currently leaking out of the town as most local people currently do their main food shopping in Dumbarton, while the town’s only petrol station regularly runs out of fuel.
Now it is hoped that the new Waitrose will encourage more local people to do their main food shop in Helensburgh – while attracting new shoppers from a wide catchment area around the town.
Last week Waitrose released new data to underline the positive benefits that the development is expected to bring, including spin-off benefit to the town centre largely due to the fact that Waitrose is a food operator and the store would only carry a limited range of non food items.
The company estimates spin off expenditure to the town centre of up to £4 million every year. This is money that shoppers would spend on comparison goods and services which Waitrose do not offer – including visiting banks and cafes, dropping off dry cleaning and photo processing, visiting electrical or hardware shops, cafes, specialist food retailers, clothes shops, pharmacies, hairdressers and so on.
Speaking on behalf of Waitrose, Martin Gorman said:
“We are very pleased to have secured planning permission for a new store in Helensburgh and plan to open our doors to customers in early 2013, bringing 180 much needed local jobs and putting Helensburgh firmly back on the map as a quality shopping destination. The result is testament to the overwhelming support we have received from local people and yesterday's turnout at the Hearing was nothing short of incredible.
“We’d like to extend a huge thank you to the thousands of supporters who helped to make the case for approval, and particularly those who spoke so eloquently on behalf of the community at yesterday’s Hearing.”
The new Waitrose will:
· Open in early 2013, bringing secure, long-term employment for up to 180 local people. All employees will be Partners in the John Lewis Partnership – which is owned by its employees.
· Provide a second petrol station for the town
· Offer local and regional producers and suppliers opportunities to supply the new store.
· Donate £1,000 every single month to local charities and good causes nominated by local people through its “Community Matters” scheme.