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Lidl, M&S Food and Starbucks drive-thru at Banchory could be open by next summer if £12m plans are approved

Council planning chiefs have recommended the scheme for the Deeside town be approved at an upcoming meeting.

A meeting will take place on plans for a new Banchory retail park
Councillors will decide on plans for a new Banchory retail park at an upcoming meeting. Image: Ireland Design Architects

Major plans to build a retail park featuring a Lidl, M&S Food store and Starbucks drive-thru at Banchory could be approved next week.

The blueprints for a field behind the town’s Tesco were lodged at the start of the year.

An as-yet unnamed garden centre and a Home Bargains would also feature in the scheme.

Despite dividing opinions in the Deeside community, council planners are now urging elected members to endorse the proposal at an upcoming meeting.

And if it’s approved, construction would commence this year – with the first shoppers streaming in by next summer.

This aerial image shows the land in question. Image: Ireland Design Architects

Why should Banchory retail park plans be approved at meeting?

Councillors will be presented with a 50-page report ahead of a decision being made.

Officials list numerous reasons why they feel the scheme should go ahead.

Among them are the results of a retail study – which suggest the town centre will be largely unaffected by the development.

Banchory High Street seen here in January. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

As detailed in our recent Planning Ahead round-up, independent experts from Edinburgh said it “would not threaten” shops in the centre of Banchory.

They said: “The estimated level of impact on Banchory town centre is 13% which we consider to be low/medium.”

What about the Starbucks drive-thru?

Many people raised concerns about the Starbucks and its potential impact on the cosy coffee shops that line the High Street.

Ryden, acting as consultant for Banchory Estates, said there were no other “suitable units” in the town for a branch of the Seattle-based chain.

While council planning gurus say it “may” take people away from the centre, they conclude that the drive-thru would not be a “destination in its own right”.

They add: “It will likely capture the bulk of its business primarily from people making trips to the development for retail purposes, or from commuters passing – particularly in a morning.

“The cafe proposal is therefore not considered to pose any significant impact on the town centre.”

Plans for a Banchory retail park have been submitted to Aberdeenshire Council
Some popular retailers could soon be opening new branches at the proposed Banchory retail park. following the meeting next week. Image: Ireland Design Architects

Some residents blasted the plans

Aberdeenshire Council received 14 objections to the plans, while seven people wrote letters of support.

Joan Fleming warned against Banchory becoming an “urban sprawl”.

She added: “The project would be very detrimental to the centre of Banchory, which is already having a hard time post-Covid and in the current economic downturn.

“As for a drive-thru café, words can not say how unnecessary and unsightly this would be.”

Jill Adron worried it would be a “nail in the coffin” of the town centre, and Graham Smith said it would encourage more car use.

The land at the heart of the matter is lying unused. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

But others welcomed the idea of cheaper groceries…

Marianne Mutch said having the shops on her doorstep would “save a trip to Westhill” for groceries.

Looking forward to a new Lidl, Gavin Harper welcomed “a cheaper supermarket, with the current cost-of-living crisis”.

And Jordan Morgan said it would bring more people to the town.

Do you think the retail park should be built? Let us know in our comments section below

Could new eco rules pose a problem?

Last month, Friends of the Earth Scotland told us they hoped new government guidelines could scupper the “eco-disaster” retail park.

It came as ministers passed new planning guidelines aimed at fighting the climate crisis, which are to be followed by all Scottish councils.

The new framework takes specific aim at retail parks and drive-thrus.

Queues at the Starbucks drive-thru in Blackburn, outside Aberdeen, during the pandemic. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Banchory retail park could prevent people driving greater distances for shopping

But council planners list the various ways in which the drive-thru could help meet those eco goals.

They say it would be connected to paths and cycling routes, with bus stops also allowing “sustainable travel” to the site.

The field could soon be transformed. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

A new crossing point would also promote walking, and plans for 20 charging points for electric vehicles were also praised.

Planners say: “The combination of bus, cycling and walking connections offers a choice for sustainable travel.

“There are no wider traffic or travel implications arising.

“In terms of the wider road network, there is likely to be a benefit through a reduction in travel to other retail centres.”

Banchory town centre. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

What do the Banchory retail park developers say ahead of meeting?

Commenting on the proposals, Blair Morrison from Banchory Estates hailed the benefits.

Mr Morrison said: “If approved by councillors, the proposals would represent a significant investment of £12m in the town.

“Importantly, it would create up to 200 jobs across the site, and an additional 100 jobs during construction.

“Alongside this, the proposals also create additional choice for local residents and provide an opportunity to retain local spend in Banchory, with many residents currently travelling outwith the town.”

The application will go before members of the Marr area committee on Tuesday, March 28.

You can see the plans here.