PRESSURE is mounting in Jedburgh for the town to get a major supermarket to add to the small Co-op it already has, writes Mark Entwistle.
But there is controversy over the possible loss of land zoned by the local authority for industrial development.
One application for a site at Bankend South Industrial Estate was refused at the end of April for a number of reasons, including the fact that it would result in the loss of what is termed ‘employment’ land and also because it as an out-of-centre location it could threaten existing town centre businesses.
The other, longer standing, application is for a supermarket development on the former Oregon Timber Frame company site at the northern edge of the town and which has not yet been determined.
However, an SBC spokesperson told TheSouthern this application has been the subject of considerable dialogue with the developer on the issue of retail impact.
No date has yet been set for SBC planning committee to make a decision, although an outcome is expected within the next two months or so.
One irate Jedburgh resident told TheSouthern that any loss of employment land was specifically against planning policy and could not be condoned, especially at a time when new businesses needed to be helped in order stimulate the economy.
“It is widely acknowledged that a food store is needed for Jedburgh and Eyemouth, but not at the expense of employment land which is of great importance to the growth and sustainability of the Scottish Borders economy,” said the person.
Local Scottish Borders Council member Len Wyse said a large number of the town’s residents have been arguing for a major supermarket.
“They don’t want to travel far due to rising costs of fuel and time taken,” said Councillor Wyse. “A good supermarket could keep them in town and maybe they would use our struggling High Street shops more.
“It’s all very well keeping some land available for employment but if a supermarket can employ in the region of say 60 to 70 part and full-time workers then surely that’s classed as employment.
“I don’t go with the figure of more than 100 employees, I think that was egging the application too much. But extra employment should help the local economy be more buoyant. It may also be an extra encouragement for folk wanting to move here, so helping our local builders.”
And he warned: “I’m afraid there is no getting away from it but folk enjoy the new supermarket experience and if it does not come here then the shopper will go out of town.”
Fellow local authority representative Sandy Scott added: “Suffice to say Jedburgh could do with another food retailing outfit – it would give the Jedburgh residents a greater choice on price, quality and variety, and would also create a number of jobs.”
Councillor Tom Brown said as the only Jedburgh councillor on SBC’s planning committee, it would be wrong of him to pre-empt the outcome.
“Normally the local member would be asked to lead the debate on the day and this will, of course, be a very important decision for the committee to take and I can assure the citizens of my town that I will make sure that it will not be taken lightly,” he said.