An abandoned health centre in Inverurie could be transformed into a “vibrant retail destination” featuring the town’s first Starbucks drive thru coffee shop.
Aberdeen-based developer West Coast Estates (WCE) has partnered with the NHS to form £5 million plans to turn the Inverurie Health Centre into four new retail units – with space for 64 “much-needed” new parking spaces.
The site, on Constitution Street, would be demolished to make way for the development but while locals have said it could be beneficial “if done right” some are worried the arrival of big name chains could be the “death” of local businesses.
There are also concerns about the impact the businesses would have on the already busy roads in the town centre.
One of the new units has been identified as a Starbucks drive-thru, which would be the first in the town and the second in Aberdeenshire.
The partners behind the development hope it will create up to 70 full and part-time job opportunities.
WCE director, Iftikar Mian, said last night: “It will benefit local residents and, importantly, complement the existing retail offer that is available in Inverurie.
“We also recognise the need for additional car parking spaces within the town centre and the proposals would deliver 64 much need new car parking spaces.
“Discussions are already under way with a variety of operators, including Starbucks, and we look forward to working with the local community, neighbouring businesses, and all those who have an interest in the proposals.’’
WCE also have plans to create new access from Constitution Street into the development.
The derelict health centre was built on land that formerly belonged to the Locomotive Works and the new development will be on top of where the old Railway Hall was once located.
Initial reactions have been mixed, with some residents excited by the potential arrival of “big brands”, while others have raised concerns the already “dangerously” congested Constitution Street and West High Street could be made worse by a further increase in traffic.
And Mike Stewart of the Inverurie Whisky Shop, a stone’s throw from the proposed development, said it could be the “death” of local coffee shops.
He said: “There are about 30 food and drink outlets that could be affected. Starbucks could wipe some of them out.
“Inverurie is known for being strong for local businesses. It’s what makes our high street so quirky and diverse and we want to protect that.
“If done right, however, this could help. The new parking places will definitely be a bonus.”
And John Sorry, of the Green Grocer on West High Street, added: “It is good news that something will be going on there now. It will be much better than an empty building.
“But it is unlikely this will help independent businesses. The rates will be too high for them to afford and the Starbucks won’t help the coffee shops already in Inverurie.”
However, he praised the “much-needed” 64 parking spaces, adding that parking was the biggest issue facing Inverurie’s retail scene.
Local businesses are to meet in the coming weeks to discuss the plans.