A terrace of retail units is in the pipeline for part of Montrose’s former distillery site on Brechin Road with national chain Home Bargains lined up to arrive in town.
The site covers around 1.4 hectares and sits some 130 metres west of the junction with North Esk Road, but the plan has created division locally, with some questioning the economic impact of the development on what they say is a struggling High Street.
Kilmac Montrose is behind the proposal which will go before Angus development standards councillors on Tuesday with a conditional approval recommendation from officials.
The largest and west most unit of the development would have a footprint of 2,044 sq.m. and be occupied by Home Bargains, with the other units having smaller footprints of 650 and 465 sq.m. respectively.
A car park of 161 spaces features in the plan, with access to the development being taken from the altered junction which also serves the Lidl supermarket opposite.
The application drew a total of nine letters of representation, including a submission of support from the town’s community council, which said it believes the development offers an ”exciting opportunity” to add a further dimension to the local retail offering.
In the body’s letter, chairman Mark Cessford also suggested there might be a local appetite for a big name fast food outlet within the new site.
“During a presentation by the applicant to the Community Council, it was suggested that the community might be receptive to the presence of a major fast food outlet in the town.
“It might be useful if this thought is held by all parties including Angus Council. On the basis that there was no suggestion of displacement of existing retailers away from the existing retails areas within Montrose then Montrose Community Council are happy to confirm our endorsement of this application.”
However, individual objectors have raised concerns including the impact on local residents, including fears of increased littering, and the potential leakage of town centre footfall with a knock on for the High Street.
One commented: “There are copious amount of empty shops in our busy town centre which need filled before out of town development should be considered.
“The local council and planning authority should be supporting the High Street and its existing businesses rather than even considering this level of out of town development.
“I think its time to start encouraging developers with vision to look into Montrose’s potential development sites rather than allowing these banal and generic buildings to be erected and sit empty while our High Street needs support more than anything.”
Officials admit such sites are “not generally favoured in terms of development plan policy”, but say there are no suitable sites either in or on the edge of the town centre capable of accommodating a development of the scale being sought.
They say a new store will “add to competition and choice” and in part address “qualitative and quantitative deficiency” in Montrose.