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Unfortunately the plans for an Aldi got the go-ahead on 17 December at the planning committee. This was despite an excellent presentation made by John Stewart, Stephen Hawkins and Joe Findlay, on behalf of PAS and the traders, putting all the planning arguments against the proposal, pointing out the traffic problems that will arise and the negative impact it will have on the high street and the traders. It is difficult to understand this decision 10 years after a supermarket on that site was turned down and when supermarket floorspace in the area has increased so much in the intervening period meaning that there is even less need for one now.

The developers claimed that they would not take any business away from independent shops but then could not explain how they came about the figure of 3.3% loss of business for the town centre. The impact on the high street was barely mentioned by the councillors, which must have been upsetting for the local traders who attended the meeting, and nor was the traffic. It was as though they didn't want to discuss the substantive issues.

What was not mentioned at the planning committee meeting was that both the refusal for the supermarket at Milton Link and the Lidl at Inchview Terrace were also on the grounds of lack of need, i.e. it was acknowledged that there is no gap in provision of food shopping in either quantity or quality in the area.

It was pointed out that a shed and car park at the gateway to Portobello was a betrayal of the NWPDB but obviously Portobello is not seen as important enough to care about. Many people in the community spent countless hours on the masterplan and we were told it would be a blueprint for development on that site for the next 15 years but we were told today that it had been superseded because of other planning decisions. Yet, it was meant to be a material consideration for this application.

This is what we could have had if the brief had been stuck to:

Live/work units with workshop / studio / office space.

Possible community uses, such as a health centre practice and/or a nursery / crèche facility.

Other specialist uses that benefit from a street frontage such as small offices, local services, healthcare, professional offices, graphics and computer design, and artists’ studios.

No retail other than a purely local “corner shop” facility within the development.

A hotel development, possibly as a “landmark” building on the north part of the Baileyfield site at the entrance to the town.

What are we getting: a retail box with an excessive amount of parking, housing (which is welcome but could be much better) and none of the above.

The news that Phoenix House will be developed for 26 flats means that there is nowhere left in the community to house Out of the Blue and Verden studios, two important creative venues without which Portobello will be culturally the poorer. All in all, we have got a poor deal for the community - development that bears very little resemblance to the aspirations of the North West Portobello Development Brief that so many of us spent hours contributing to and giving feedback on. One wonders what the point of "consultation" is.

Another important point that was ignored was traffic considerations. The Seafield junction will be saturated by the time the development is complete and there will be an additional 90 cars travelling through the already saturated Bath Street junction. This will come as no surprise to those of us who walk and drive around the area on a regular basis. The huge amount of traffic and air pollution that will be generated by this development are to be expected as Aldi, by demanding more than twice as much car parking as council parking standards (which are supposed to discourage excessive car use) allow, are admitting that they expect large volumes of car borne traffic. At the committee meeting they could give no valid reason as to why they want this grossly excessive number of spaces.

It is unfortunate that the council did not even consider the traffic issues. For the large superstore 10 years ago the council stated that they did not think the traffic would be a problem but yet it emerged as one of the major reasons the application was turned down at the public inquiry.

The planning application was approved subject to the number of car parking spaces being approved and will be going back to committee at some point for approval. We will keep you updated about this.

What are traffic plans to deal with Porty Aldi?

24 December 2014 (Edinburgh Evening News).

I was reading the article in the Evening News about Aldi (News, December 11).

Congratulations to vice convener, SNP councillor Sandy Howat and the planning committee for voting yes to Aldi supermarket. If he thinks Portobello’s retail is dying, then the rest of the shops will be closing soon.

Aldi will be selling meat, poultry, groceries, fruit and alcohol, which, if he hadn’t noticed, individual shops are already selling along Portobello High Street and Seafield Road East. Nearly every newsagent and grocery shop is licensed. Now Aldi will be selling cheap alcohol.

What has happened to preventing the over-provision of alcohol? And helping small businesses?

I welcome houses on the site but not the superstore. If we need more housing then why can’t we use all the space for that and forget the supermarket? If people wish to shop at Aldi then there is one close by at Musselburgh.

Have the councillors and planning committee not thought about the traffic problems we are already having at the Kings Road junction and Portobello High Street? Adding a supermarket with a car park at this location will bring the traffic into gridlock.

I am sure the public who live and work at this location would like to know what councillors intend to do about the traffic – not forgetting we also have a bus terminal at Seafield Road East, 100 yards or so from the planned Aldi.

Coming from Portobello High Street towards the junction at Kings Road (incidentally, which has five lanes towards Leith, City Bypass and town centre and is just a few yards from the Aldi site), it is very difficult to get into the right lane.

Arfan, Sarwar & Soraya Saleemi, Portobello.

Portobello’s new Aldi store is backward move

7 January 2015 (Edinburgh Evening News)

The city planners’ decision to OK an Aldi store for Portobello is not only crazy, but goes in the face of the Edinburgh local development plan retail policy regarding town centres.

According to that, planning permission for retail development should only be granted where there will be no adverse effects on a centre’s vitality and viability and where the proposal will reinforce its retail fortunes.

Planning vice convener Sandy Howat says that Aldi will provide “something different” (Evening News, December 18). How true – a dead high street.

All supermarkets offer ‘budget’ and own brand products. City planners should note that Aldi has just been taken to task for the second time by the Advertising Standards Authority because of its misleading price comparisons. They should not be taken in by Aldi hype.

Porty, with its prom and village charm, should be developed to attract visitors, not killed stone dead by the council embracing a foreign retail giant. Housing is welcome; Aldi – and the traffic it will create at a bad spot – is not.

S Taylor, Moira Terrace, Edinburgh


The Aldi car parking application will be going to the planning committee on Wednesday 21 October.

The recommendation is for approval, despite the fact that it is admitted that the amount of car parking applied for is excessive, i.e. DOUBLE (94 instead of 47), what the parking standards allow. What is the point of council standards if developers are allowed to flout them when they choose? Another application for a supermarket in Corstorphine is recommended for refusal partly on grounds of excessive parking because the development is in a heavily congested area that is well served by public transport, exactly the same as Portobello. How can this inconsistency be justified?

The final decision lies with the planning committee and therefore please to send a quick e-mail to them (e-mail addresses below) quoting reference no: 15/02624/AMC by Tuesday 20 October asking them to refuse the application. Please also copy to local councillors Mike Bridgman: michael.bridgman@edinburgh.gov.uk

David Walker: david.walker1@edinburgh.gov.uk and MP Tommy Shepphard: tommy.sheppard.mp@parliament.uk

Here are some points you might want to include or please feel free to add your own:

  • Aldi should NOT be allowed double the amount of parking spaces they are entitled to. There are no valid planning grounds for so many parking spaces. Another application for a supermarket in Corstorphine is recommended for refusal partly on grounds of excessive parking because the development is in a heavily congested area that is well served by public transport, exactly the same as Portobello. How can this inconsistency be justified?
  • This demand for excessive parking is an admission that the development will be a huge traffic generator. The higher number of spaces will attract more traffic, leading to road safety problems, adding to existing congestion in the High Street and causing increased air pollution.
  • The report justifies the excessive parking by saying it will take cars off the high street but there is no evidence provided to back up this claim.
  • Parking would be allowed when Aldi is closed between 10 pm and 8 am when the town centre shops are also closed. It is highly unlikely that anyone would want to park there during those hours and it would therefore be of no benefit to local residents.
  • People are unlikely to park at Aldi to shop, then walk to the town centre to shop, and walk back especially when there is free, unrestricted parking closer at Bridge St.
  • Aldi will only let you park if you use their shop and will charge huge fines if you stay longer than they want. The council report admits that is it not within the remit of the planning authority to control a private parking area and therefore conditions cannot be applied to control the length of time a car can park in this area. In other words, once they get permission Aldi will do whatever they want.

Planning committee councillors: