The Old Mill site
The Old Mill site

Retail giant Aldi is under mounting pressure to decide the fate of its undeveloped land in Peterhead.

As a new year dawns, the former Kirkburn Mill site remains an eyesore at the entrance to the town centre.

Political and civic leaders are now pushing for change.

The German supermarket chain bought the land in 2008 when the previous owners, textile firm Smiths of Peterhead, went into administration.

Although the mill buildings were demolished in 2009 no Aldi store has ever been built and controversy about the future of the land has raged ever since.

Peterhead South and Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith said: “I’ve been pressing Aldi again on the condition of the site in response to complaints from members of the public.

“It’s clear that, as a piece of private property, it’s up to Aldi to deal with the issues and to act as a responsible neighbour to those who live close to the site.

“The current situation is unacceptable, being as it is on the way into the town centre, and it certainly reflects very poorly on Aldi as a company that they are treating Peterhead in this way.”

The Buchanie understands that the land may be partly contaminated, a potential stumbling block to any further development or sale.

Aldi, however, has not made details of any contamination public. The site is currently surrounded by wooden hoardings but many of these were torn down by high winds over the festive period.

A spokesman for Aldi said: “Following the recent storms, which damaged the site hoardings, we are now making plans to make the site safe and secure again.

“We will be reviewing the whole boundary with a view to securing the site with a more weatherproof system.”

One option which has been discussed is replacing the wooden boards with chain-link fencing. The Peterhead Civic Society has been in negotiations with Aldi about providing an alternative to the poorly maintained boundary.

The society was pushing to have artwork put on the hoardings to make the site more attractive to the residents of the town but this move has been put on hold while a decision is made about the fencing.

Civic society chairman Kevin O’Brien said: “We need something that is robust but also transparent so the wind can blow through.

“In my view, I’d rather look through and onto the site than at what’s there now. Aldi have a corporate social responsibilty that needs to be considered. We are concerned and are speaking to the council and Aldi about anything we can do.

“We now have a positive line of dialogue.”