REPORTS of new major developments in the long-running Westway Retail Park supermarket story are premature according to Councillor Bob Spink, who has been closely following the saga since it started, a good number of years ago.
He says that the most recent decision taken by Angus Council was last year, and it concerned access roads, as was widely reported at the time.
His understanding is that the current story has been based on a press release sent to newspapers by an Angus Alliance member.
That release was received by the Herald, and it mentioned a supermarket operator in its heading. Our subsequent investigations left us with the belief that whilst there night be a story in the near future, there was not one at that time.
Councillor Spink has long been in favour of a food supermarket at Westway, and believes that even with the advent of Tesco there is still a substantial leakage of Arbroath spending power “not only to Dundee but surrounding Angus towns which offer better choice”.
He recalls that there were three public enquiries over the principle of a food retail giant at the Westway.
Because of planning law Angus Council officers were obliged to recommend against the granting of permission to a food giant, but councillors voted for permission. This brought appeals from various parties and the matter duly went to an enquiry.
He continued: “Witnesses who appeared at the enquiry to be grilled by QCs were myself (Independent), Councillor Alex King (SNP) and Councillor Dr Dick Spiers (Lib Dem). Nobody could have done more and every avenue was explored, but we failed.
“The situation now is that planning permission in principle was sought by Macdonald Estates on the Westway site about a year ago. So much smaller in scale was the food retail element of the application that it was not necessary to refer it to the government.”
Councillor Spink feels it would not be proper for him to make any comment on what might happen in the future, as he is a member of the Development Standards Committee.
He added, however: “If you visit application 10/01348/FULL on the Angus Council website (Planning Applications) you will see that planning permission has been granted, subject to conditions, to Macdonald Estates for the formation of new access road and improved junction arrangement on the site at Westway, no more no less.”
Councillor Spink concluded that the application seems to suggest that a client has been found for the site, but if that turns out to be the case: “It will be duly announced by the company not by any politician”.