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Macduff Aldi in doubt AGAIN after objection from Morrisons

The proposal was expected to be approved on Tuesday.

Artist impressions of the new Banff Morrisons and Macduff Aldi stores. Image: Roddie Reid/DC Thomson
Artist impressions of the new Banff Morrisons and Macduff Aldi stores. Image: Roddie Reid/DC Thomson

Long-awaited plans for an Aldi supermarket in Macduff have again been thrown into doubt, with another rival battling to stop it.

The application for the discount Duff Street store went before the Banff and Buchan area committee on Tuesday morning.

It came after previous plans for the shop were approved last year but scuppered by a Tesco legal challenge.

While the proposal was expected to be approved again this time, chief planner Paul Macari told members a late objection was submitted on Thursday…

The locations of the proposed new Banff and Macduff stores. Image: Roddie Reid/DC Thomson

As the letter raises “complex” legal matters, he advised councillors to defer the plan until the next committee meeting.

He argued it would give local authority planners the chance to “explore and evaluate” the points raised to see how valid they are.

That means it will be at least another three weeks before Aldi gets the go-ahead.

Though it is not known who raised this objection, we can reveal is Morrisons has urged the council to knock it back too.

The retail giant plans to open up a new supermarket a short distance away in neighbouring Banff.

Councillors ‘begrudgingly’ agreed to three week delay

The decision to postpone the decision didn’t sit well with councillors.

Councillor Ross Cassie said: “We follow process, there were timelines as to when people should object and this objection has come in at the 11th hour.

“If we are sticking to process, surely everybody else should stick to process as well.”

The new Aldi store was included in a masterplan for the area – which included 22 homes and a future GP practice. Image: Aldi

While councillor John Cox sp0ke on behalf of the hundreds of locals desperate to see the bargain supermarket open up.

He said: “The sooner we get this resolved one way or another the better, because this is a shadow hanging over the communities.

“It’s having a huge, detrimental economic effect.”

Committee members “begrudgingly” agreed to defer the plan until they meet again on October 3.

Why did Morrisons object to Aldi plan?

Rival supermarket chain Morrisons has lodged plans to build a new shop and four-pump petrol station at Canal Park in Banff.

They argue plans for a supermarket there have “long been established”.

The proposed Morrisons store would be located in Canal Park, Banff. Image: DC Thomson

Morrisons say their proposal would bring 120 jobs to the area, bring a boost to the town centre, and “act as a catalyst” for further development in Banff.

By comparison, they say Macduff would just create 35 new positions, with no filling station attached.

The objection states that the Aldi proposal is located “out of centre with no benefits for either town centre”.

An image of how the Banff Morrisons would look if approved. Image: Morrisons

Again, this is unfavourably likened to the “town centre” Morrisons plan across the bay in neighbouring Banff, which the firm says will regenerate the stagnating area.

It also says that Aldi has “failed to recognise the impact” of having both an Aldi and Morrisons store on the centres of Banff and Macduff.

What’s more, Morrisons bosses are demanding to see the Court of Session judgment that put paid to the previous planning permission.

So could Aldi actually be refused?

According to Morrisons, it should be. And the nature of the additional mystery objection will be scutinised in the weeks ahead.

They say council’s own stated “town centre first” principle should see it rejected.

Their experts cite policies which mean the heart of communities should first be considered for such developments.

Morrisons says that having the new Aldi in Macduff could batter beleaguered Banff town centre. Image: Paul Glendell/DC Thomson

The papers add: “If both the proposed applications are considered together, the impact on the defined ‘principle town centre’ of Banff would threaten the vitality of the centre.”

‘We objected – but did so in good time’

Following the meeting, a spokesman confirmed that Morrisons was not behind the delay.

He said: “As many residents will be aware, Morrisons is promoting an application for a new supermarket on Canal Park, Banff.

“We do have concerns about the Aldi application for Duff Street, which were submitted to council officers in early August.

“We respect the need for representations to be made in a timely manner and can confirm the late objection received last week did not come from Morrisons.”

Morrisons also lifts the lid on the expected impact on Banff Tesco – with an Aldi expected to eat into £1.03 million of its takings – almost 10%.

The Banff Co-op, meanwhile, would lose out on an expected £620,000 – which is 9%.

The Co-op also previously railed against the Aldi scheme

They also contended that it would destroy trade in Banff.

Objection isn’t the first time Morrisons has waded into Macduff Aldi debate…

Last year, Morrisons wrote a letter to Aberdeenshire Council urging the local authority to choose between their larger supermarket and the Macduff Aldi.

Dossiers submitted by Morrisons suggested that bosses believe only one should get the go-ahead.

An artist impression of how the new store in Macduff could look. Image: Aldi

In an e-mail to councillor Michael Roy, corporate services manager Liz Tattersley alluded to rival plans for a “discount food store development” on Macduff’s Duff Street.

She wrote: “We believe our proposal offers significant benefits to the towns of Banff and Macduff.”

Latest objection means MORE delay for Macduff Aldi supermarket

The German chain was initially given permission to build the shop last August.

But while shoppers were getting their lists ready to go, Tesco took legal action against the decision.

As Aberdeenshire Council didn’t fight back, the approval was later quashed by the Court of Session.

The field on the outskirts of Macduff where Aldi is looking to set up shop. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

However, Aldi went back to the drawing board and came back with an updated proposal to include its new store as part of a masterplan.

Bosses believed that having an agreed plan in place for the land would mean any future applications could not be contested again.

Councillors backed the masterplan in June, which also includes land for 22 homes and a future GP practice.

Aldi bosses revealed their intention to start building the new store next summer with an aim to open its doors by the end of 2024.

All that could now be left hanging in the balance.

You can see the plans here.

This article has been amended. A previous version incorrectly stated that the decision was postponed after a last-minute objection from Morrisons. While Morrisons has officially opposed the proposal, they did so last month and it was not their objection which caused the last-minute adjournment.

Read about the emotional public meeting after the Macduff Aldi plans were banjaxed by Tesco earlier this year.

Angry locals threatened to boycott the UK’s biggest supermarket chain after the blow:

‘They’re like supermarket mafia’: Tesco boycott threat as Macduff Aldi plans blown apart by rival’s legal challenge