Proposals by Waitrose to build a store opposite Hermitage Academy in Helensburgh have been approved.
Argyll and Bute’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee made the decision - subject to the applicant fulfilling various conditions - following a public hearing in the town today.
More than 260 people attended the eight hour hearing in Victoria Halls, which followed an earlier site visit by committee members.
Planners had recommended that the application for a food store and petrol on Cardross Road on the outskirts of the town be refused.
Councillor Daniel Kelly, chair of the PPSL committee, said the proposal had generated strong reactions both in favour and against.
“This was a controversial application which attracted a large number of representations and raised a number of complex issues. The strength of feeling on both sides was evident during what was a very thorough hearing,” he added.
“Our planning team recommended that the proposal be turned down for several reasons, not least that it would represent a departure from the local development plan.
“We assessed the application in line with planning legislation requirements and with regard to national and local planning policy along with all other relevant planning and other material considerations.”
Councillor Kelly stressed that the PPSL committee’s aim in determining every application it considers was to make the right decision not just for the short term, but for the long term future of the local and wider area.
“The committee has to balance various issues when considering an application of this sort – among them relevant planning considerations, the views of the local community and what we feel is in the best interests of the town,” he said.
“We have spent many hours assessing this proposal, and listened very carefully to all those who contributed both in the period since the application was lodged and at today’s hearing.
“I would like to thank all those who took part, and look forward to continuing to work towards securing a prosperous and sustainable future for Helensburgh and the surrounding area while at the same time meeting our statutory requirements in terms of planning and other relevant legislation.”