Aldi: Oxgangs Path Proposed Development

Aldi Update: Jan 2017

Activity had been noted at the development site as if work was due to commence and we had asked the retail foodstore company for a timeline for the construction and completion of the new store. Aldi’s representatives agreed to come along to this meeting and give us a rundown of how they see the work proceeding. At the time of the meeting the demolition of the social work and church buildings was almost completed.

David Harper speaking on behalf of the Aldi representatives started off by reporting it had been agreed with the Church of Scotland that the church organ would be preserved and this had been carried out during the demolition process. The organ was now in the safe keeping of a restorer, Charlie Davidson.

The construction stage of the development was due to begin on the 20th February, following the site clearance and expected to take 34 weeks and 4 days. Calculating it out, they are looking to open the store on October 19th, which is a Thursday and the day traditionally they open all their stores. To avoid accidental damage to vehicles, parking restrictions have been put in place around the site. Site access will be via the Library car park entrance on Oxgangs Road North and the library’s car park will be suspended during the construction.

This prompted a number of questions regarding access to the library, particularly for those disabled who attend regularly by bus. No firm commitment given but general acceptance the bus should be able to stop at the site entrance to allow passengers to disembark, Library should liaise with the site manager to avoid conflict.

Cllr Aitken asked for confirmation that lighting would be provided along the pathway from the front of the library down towards Oxgangs Broadway. The raising of the ground level at the side of this path for the Aldi car park would make the bottom of the path dark and sheltered from view. This was a condition she asked to be put in place by CEC Planning authority through the infrastructure and developer contributions scheme and form part of the local authority’s street lighting network. Response was unclear but if this is a condition, it would be honoured.

Questions were asked in regard to the employment of local people and apprenticeships. Aldi generally employ the same contractor for their building projects and could give no assurance in regard to that contractor’s employment policies. Their own policy is to employ local people where possible and they do have an apprenticeship scheme in operation.

A question was asked about community engagement during the construction stages, such as enabling school visits. This was not something they or their contractors would normally do. Aldi’s corporate principles are to promote healthy lifestyles and work with local, regional and national partners in support of good causes.

After the discussion, the Chair thanked David Harper and his associates for their time in coming along to our meeting. Whilst the community council had to take a neutral line in regard to the planning application, we were well aware of the local anticipation for this store to open and wished Aldi every success in this venture.

History

Firrhill Community Council received an invitation from Aldi to view their proposals for the development of the derelict social work/church site at Oxgangs Path and discuss with them any issues causing concern.  The presentation was held in the Lochan View Community Business Centre on the 18th March 2014 and attended by community council members and local elected councillors.

At the request of the Community Council, Aldi held 2 drop in exhibitions on the 11th April.  A morning session at St John’s Colinton Mains Church and an afternoon exhibit in Oxgangs Library. An information leaflet which included a feedback form was handed out. Click here to view full presentation.

Aldi's planning application for the demolition of existing buildings and erection of a class 1 retail foodstore with ancillary works including car parking, access and landscaping at St John's Parish Church Hall, 345 Oxgangs Road North, was recorded in the Planning Bulletin for 29 September with a requirement for comments to be submitted by 24th October.  Firrhill Community Council submitted comments on 13th October recording our support for the development.  This decision was postponed to allow for a site visit by the CEC Planning Committee and on the 11th February 2015 at a meeting of the Development Management Sub Committee the application was formally granted.

Aldi Presentation (18th March 2014)

Aldi Team:

G Nicolson,   Property Director, Aldi Stores Ltd.
G Kelly,        SKM Colin Buchanan, Transport & Highways Consult.
R Newton,     GVA James Barr, Planning Consultants
J Harbison,    J Harbison & Co, Strategic Planning & Project Comm.

Introduction: H Levy as Chair of Firrhill Community Council (FCC), welcomed the Aldi Team and stated the community council’s position, which was to ensure its objectives were upheld and to fairly reflect this matter to the Oxgangs / Firrhill / Colinton Mains community.  Introductions were made round the table. 

 

Aldi Background: Family–owned German Foodstore Discount Retailer which is now the biggest private food shop in the world.  Being privately owned means they have no share-holders to keep happy. Their first British food shop opened in 1953 and they currently have one Edinburgh store in Gorgie, which is unique in terms of being overly busy.  Big on German efficiency both in the design of their stores and in sourcing quality produce to sell under their own brand label that will compete with store and named brands.  Each store holds as standard, 1300 core food lines with the larger supermarkets carrying more.  Currently 30% of Aldi foods in Scottish stores are locally sourced, with aim of increasing to 40%.

Why Oxgangs: Aldi have been interested in this location for a number of years and consider it an ideal site to suit their size of shop.  It is a busy location with a large catchment area and good bus services going to all parts of the city.  It is classed as ‘white land’ with no defined purpose and they do not consider it financially suitable for housing as it would only provide a maximum of 40 flats.  They view that the capital receipt from the sale will allow the City Council to open up other sites for housing and employment, whereas this site could lie derelict for a long time.  A store here fulfils the City Council’s plan to add to existing local shopping centres.  Aldi maintain because of the nature and size of their stores, in their experience they do not damage local businesses but support them by increasing the footfall in the area.

Aldi Site PlanOxgangs Site: For the half acre site to be suitable it will need to be levelled and this will add to the cost.  The building itself will be of low profile design with a flat roof, which will be lower than the previous buildings thus it will not dominate the skyline.  The building will run along Oxgangs Path and face the library with the car parking area in between.   The amenity land included in the sale will be replaced by a row of trees/shrubs laid across the centre of the car park area.  The car park will be shared with the library utilising the existing access point on Oxgangs Road North.  The entrance may have to be widened.  Proposal is for 87 parking spaces with 12 being reserved for library patrons and an allocation for disabled and parent & child spaces.  For the cyclist there will be a park for 8-10 bicycles.  A City council recycling point will be situated at the side of the building and accessed from Oxgangs Brae and not from the car park.  The Community Council expressed the view that Aldi customers may also want to use the recycling point. 

Concern was expressed about the loss of the new pathway laid to provide an easier route for wheelchair users, etc., to the Oxgangs Broadway services and the community centre.  The Aldi proposal provided for a stepped pathway located the north-east corner of the car park down to the shopping centre at Oxgangs Broadway but they indicated they were prepared to look at the original path to see if the slope can be altered to suite wheelchair users.  FCC suggested an access/egress point made from the car park at a point where it is level with the footpath on Oxgangs Brae would provide for both disabled customers and those who want to use the recycling point and simpler to achieve. 

Aldi Site PlanFCC aware the City Council are about to resurface the footpaths in Oxgangs Path and queried about possible damage to the new surface during demolition/construction work. Advised that all work would be accessed via Oxgangs Rd North, not Oxgangs Path thus any CEC work in Oxgangs Path should not be affected.   The build programme expected to be 29-30 weeks.

Scale of operations: no fleet of delivery vans needed; only one or two a day after initial stocking of shop. 

Planning Context:  Aldi consider their proposal is on a smaller scale to Morrisons or Tesco, and can be integrated into the local Broadway shopping centre, enhancing this location.  There is no discount food service in the area.  They are looking to submit a planning application about the end of April.

Benefits locally: FCC expressed concern that whilst competition might be good for the customer, the benefit might be lost if other stores were put out of business with resultant local job losses. Aldi’s experience has been they draw their customers from the large stores rather than the local small businesses and consider their store will draw footfall to library and trade to Broadway shops.  It may even help fill empty units at this location, e.g., it has no in-store café.  It will complement local shops (no cigarettes, papers, lottery, bakery, stamps or pharmacy).  In regard to employment, 30 jobs would be created, including two apprenticeships; good promotion prospects; pay is above market rate; Aldi has policy of recruiting locally, but applicants must be suitable – should have drive and initiative; there will be local recruitment events and posters around the site advertising these.

 

 

Page updated 26th Juney 2017 





Date of next meeting: 24 July 2017 at 6.00 pm
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