Aldi has finally been given permission to build a badly needed Macduff supermarket – despite another last-ditch bid to entangle the plans in red tape.
The £3.3 million proposals could bring 35 new jobs to the area and end a long-standing “deficiency” in shopping options.
But Aldi has faced a monumental struggle to get the massively popular scheme off the drawing board.
The application went before members of the Banff and Buchan area committee this morning, for what residents hope will be the final say on its fate.
Fraserburgh councillor Ann Bell said the new shop would be a “big asset to Macduff”.
Banff member John Cox added: “Without this development the local area will die.
“Choice is what people want and I don’t think they currently have that.”
The committee went on to unanimously approve the application.
How badly is Aldi needed in Macduff?
Macduff residents have been hugely supportive of the plans for the discount food store.
Meanwhile, 145 people wrote to Aberdeenshire Council to show their support.
The application went before the same committee in September but a last minute anonymous objector waylaid the talks.
After the meeting, Aberdeenshire Council called on retail experts to analyse the impact Aldi would have on its rivals.
Roderick MacLean Associates backed the store, saying there was a “retail deficiency” in the area.
What was the last minute objection before the Macduff Aldi was finally approved?
Aberdeenshire Council has refused to reveal the identity of the mystery opponent in September.
The unpopular stance has led to Spotty Bag Shop owner Des Cheyne blasting the “secrecy” after he found himself falsely accused.
At today’s meeting, officials doubled down.
They revealed that another objection was lodged in advance of the crunch talks, but again refused to say who from.
However, the “late representation received yesterday” was swiftly pored over by local authority planning and legal experts.
They decided it “did not raise any new matters that have not already been addressed”, paving the way for the discussion to take place.
When asked by The Press and Journal if there was any legal reason to not name the objector, a council spokesman told us only that it was “policy”.
So is this it finally settled then?
Head of planning for Aberdeenshire Council, Paul Macari, stepped in to offset any expectations that the creation of the Aldi is now a foregone conclusion.
He said: “We can issue a decision, but that decision can be challenged.
“Applicants are aware of that, as well as any objectors.”
Tesco, which scuppered the scheme before, has not replied to any emails asking if the firm is behind the latest attempts to thwart it.
How did we finally get to the Macduff Aldi being approved again?
- Plans for the new supermarket were initially approved in August last year.
- However, retail rival Tesco launched a legal challenge against the decision.
- Miffed locals vowed to boycott the supermarket in protest, as the row rumbled on.
- A public meeting was even held to allow council officials the chance to explain what had happened after the plans were quashed.
- But Aldi bosses submitted a revised proposal after including it in a masterplan for the area which also added space for 22 homes and a GP practice.
- Councillors approved the new masterplan in June, paving the way for the new store to finally be rubber-stamped today.