MELROSE’S community council chairman says it is unclear what effect a new supermarket will have for retailers in the town, writes Kenny Paterson.
Scottish Borders Council’s planning department approved the Co-operative Group’s application to build a new store and car parking on the High Street site currently occupied by Melrose’s only petrol station.
The Manchester-based company will replace its present Melrose shop – also in High Street – with the 4,000 sq ft building, which it expects will create new jobs when it opens at the end of year.
As well as the petrol station being demolished, antique shop The Whole Lot will be pulled down to make way for the store.
Community council chairman Willie Windram hopes the diverse range of the town’s High Street shops will not be adversely affected by the move.
He said: “It is a shame to lose any facility in the town, but the fact that the station had reduced its hours and was not open on Sundays was perhaps indicative of petrol being available cheaper elsewhere.
“It is good to see the Co-op making a big investment in the town. They have felt for some time that the current shop was not adequate and had problems getting deliveries in.
“The concern now is that we will have an empty premises on the High Street when the Co-op moves out of its present store, where currently there are none.
“We also have to consider what affect the new Co-op will have on the other retailers. On one hand, it will likely offer a bigger range of items and that may mean shoppers staying in the town longer.
“However, it may have a negative affect on the specialist shops in the town.”
The filling station’s shop is in a C-listed building and will be altered both inside and out, but SBC planning officer Carlos Clarke believes the town centre will be improved by the new development.
A spokesperson for the Co-op said: “We are pleased that Scottish Borders Council has approved our proposals for a new store on the High Street in Melrose, which will replace our existing outlet in the town.
“The new store will be around 4,000 sq ft, much larger than our current premises, and will allow us to provide improved ranges, such as bakery and more meat and fresh produce.
“All existing staff will transfer to the new store, and in addition we expect a number of new jobs will be created. We hope the new store will be open by the end of 2013.”