Plans to bring German supermarket giant Aldi to Peterhead have taken a step forward thanks to councillors at the Buchan Area Committee.
Committee members granted planning permission to Aldi’s proposals for a retail unit, car parking, landscaping and associated works at Kirk Street on Tuesday, February 23.
Councillors at the meeting heard from Robert Stoddart, Aldi’s property developer, who gave an update on the plans.
He said: “This application is the result of 18 months of work with economic developers and Peterhead planners.
“There are a number of challenges on the site including asbestos and contamination, but we are well aware of what we have inherited and we still want to bring Aldi to Peterhead.”
Addressing the existing former Kirkburn Mill flats on the site, Mr Stoddart said: “We have decided to use hand demolition to preserve as much of the pink granite as possible.”
Mr Stoddart also told councillors that development work would begin on the site within a 12 month period if the planning permission was granted.
He added that an additional unit would be built on the site which could attract either local or national businesses, and a dual plot adjacent to the site would be tidied up and made attractive to potential buyers.
Councillors Anne Allan and Alan Gardiner raised concerns about the adjacent plot and asked what would be done with regards to landscaping.
Cllr Allan said something would have to be done as “developers wouldn’t buy it as it looks today,” while cllr Gardiner raised the issue of fencing as he said the current boards were an “eyesore” and a “disaster” in recent extreme weather conditions.
Mr Stoddart gave assurances that work would be carried out to make it as attractive as possible and promised better fencing.
Councillors Stephen Smith and Jim Ingram were concerned that traffic would increase on Kirk Street and West Road, a matter that local residents had raised objections to in the past.
However Mr Stoddart put those worries to rest by saying that the store would only receive 1-2 deliveries a day as the shop floor and storage space is much less than rival supermarkets.
He also added that there would be no need to change the current speed limit as there should be no significant impact on traffic around the Kirk Street area.
Cllr Alan Buchan raised the issue of Aldi taking trade away from the town centre.
He said: “Your application claims that only one to two per cent of trade will be taken away, however in Peterhead you are competing with the likes of Iceland and Farmfoods, I would say at least 20 to 30 per cent of trade would be driven out of the town centre.”
Mr Stoddart shot back at cllr Buchan’s claims by saying that would not be the case.
He explained: “Aldi has a different business model, we are not necessarily competing with the shops you would assume as we don’t have a bakery, butcher or sell cigarettes for example.
“We believe that people visiting us may stay in the town centre as opposed to going out of town to Asda, Morrisons and the Buchan Gateway development when it arrives.”
Cllr Anne Allan suggested that any leftover granite blocks from the demolition of the Kirkburn Mill flats be given to the North East Preservation Trust at Mintlaw, an idea welcomed by Mr Stoddart.
Commenting after the meeting, Mr Stoddart said: “We are very pleased with the decision.
“We have been working with the council on this project for many months and now look forward to being able to bring Aldi’s award-winning low prices to Peterhead shoppers as well as bringing 35 new jobs for local people.”