THE chairman of Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee has said the opening of a street corner sandwich bar in Hawick would have posed a serious road safety threat, writes Kenny Paterson.
Local councillor Ron Smith led the opposition to the plans at the corner of Buccleuch Street and St George’s Lane, which SBC officers had recommended for approval.
However, the bid was thrown out at Monday’s committee meeting by six votes to five after Mr Smith cited safety fears and the affect the shop – opposite Hawick High School – would have on surrounding residential properties.
Councillor Smith, who was assistant headteacher at Hawick High for 18 years, said: “The shop would run alongside the A7 trunk road, while a bus stop would be adjacent to it.
“The only turning point in the area is the Royal Mail’s sorting office on St George’s Lane and I don’t think they will be too pleased to see its entrance being used. We have the ongoing issue of pupils going onto the road in the Howegate area as well as litter outside food outlets, and I can imagine a similar issue here.
“This application is on the doorstep of the high school and you can imagine pupils rushing out of school to the shop and congregating outside.”
Councillor Smith’s concerns were in spite of Transport Scotland not objecting to the application, provided a barrier was erected along the pavement outside the shop. Among the objections submitted to SBC before Monday’s meeting was Hawick High cook Kathryn Izatt, who was concerned for the health of school pupils.
She said: “I feel that there is an overabundance of fast-food takeaways in the local area.
“I have to follow strict guidelines on healthy eating set down by the Scottish Executive, this (application) can only have a detrimental effect on a council-run kitchen already competing with local businesses.
“With so many empty premises on the High Street – we surely should be filling those shops first. I feel that these premises are going to be there just to attract schoolchildren as there is nothing else in the area.”
Neil Combe, minister at neighbouring Teviot Church, also opposed the sandwich bar plans.
Writing to SBC, he cited an increase in litter and unhealthy eating fears, despite SBC adding a condition that deep frying would be banned at the bar if permission was granted.
And Michelle Gourlay, of Harrow and Son Bakery was concerned for the survival of current food outlets in Hawick.
She told SBC: “Our bakery is a well-established family business and we feel that we are continually trying to manage and react to the pressures of similar businesses opening in our area. There are plenty empty shops that could be utilised on our High Street.”