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Locals support plans for new retail park in Fort William

Artist's impression of the proposed retail park at North Road, Fort William
Artist's impression of the proposed retail park at North Road, Fort William

Lochaber residents are urging Highland Council to approve plans for a new retail development that would create 150 new jobs and bring an Aldi store to the area.

More than 50 people have sent letters to the local authority in support of the proposed scheme on North Road, just outside Fort William.

However, an objection has been submitted on behalf of the Lidl supermarket chain.

The proposed location is a five-acre brownfield site, between the Rio Tinto Alcan junction and the Ben Nevis Motors Ford car showroom, alongside the A82 Inverness to Glasgow road.

Developer Morbaine currently has outline planning consent for 55,000sqft of non-food retail use, but it is now seeking permission to create a four-unit retail park for food and non-food retail use.

German supermarket chain Aldi and discount store Home Bargains are already confirmed tenants, if planning permission is granted, and Morbaine is actively marketing the remaining units to major UK retailers.

The Widnes-based development company said members of its project team recently visited the area to speak to local people and were “overwhelmed” by the level of support.

Morbaine director, Alex Brodie, said: “It is clear residents want the extra jobs and shopping choice these new stores will bring.

“Our proposals have already received strong backing from the community during the public exhibitions stage and I am delighted so many residents have registered their support for the full planning application.

“We are also grateful for the support of the local community councils, who have not objected to our plans.”

He pointed out that, if the retail park is approved by councillors, it would create 150 permanent jobs, deliver considerable investment in Fort William and significantly increase the choice available to shoppers.

It would also create a further 180 jobs during the construction phase.

The objection by Keith Hargest, of Hargest Planning Ltd, on behalf of Lidl, states: “Although the current application is not for a new superstore, it does comprise a significant amount of convenience floorspace and this proposal will not only undermine the town centre, but could also undermine the Highland Council supporting major retail development at the West Highland Retail Park (in Caol)”.

If permission is granted, Morbaine plans to start construction as soon as possible.

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