NEW Wemyss Bay Co-op Store Is Approved

A PLAN to demolish the derelict Wemyss Bay Hotel and build a small Co-op supermarket has been given the go-ahead.

Councillors on Inverclyde Planning Board voted to approve the application for the site beside the A78 Greenock Road.

A new traffic light pedestrian crossing is part of the scheme. There will be a single access from the main road into the 20-space car park.

A second shop unit that was originally part of the plan was removed from the proposal during the consideration of the application.

Some councillors were opposed to the development on grounds of road safety, disturbance for residents and the effect on existing shops.

Planning officials state that they do not believe significant trade will be drawn away from existing shops at Ardgowan Road, Wemyss Bay and Kip Park, Inverkip.

A planning department report assessing the development, stated: "The proposal will clearly result in the generation of local employment and it is noted that a major convenience retailer is identified as the occupier. Such employment creation is welcomed."

The report, by Inverclyde's head of regeneration and planning Stuart Jamieson, states: "Currently, the existing building and wider site create a very poor visual impression and the proposed redevelopment of the site would eliminate this. 

"The footprint of the new building is smaller than that of the building which currently exists. I am satisfied that overdevelopment does not therefore occur.

"The design of the proposed building follows that expected of a small, modern convenience store and includes shopfront glazing to the side elevation fronting the trunk road to break up the appearance."

Concerns over the safety of delivery vehicles reversing in the car park had been raised by roads officials. Planners however say this can be addressed by a delivery management plan being drawn up to show how it will be done safely. They state: "For example, it may be that deliveries are undertaken outwith opening hours or, if this is not possible, that vehicles are guided within the car park to ensure safety is maintained."

The report continued: "The most recent use of the premises was as a hotel. Such a use by its very nature would generate an element of noise and activity, particularly late into the evening. Whilst currently closed, the principle of the hotel being refurbished and brought back into use could not be opposed on planning grounds. 

"Following the removal of the second, smaller unit during the consideration of the application, it rests to consider whether the proposed retail shop would lead to any additional disturbance to the amenity of adjacent residents. 

"Whilst it is true that a retail shop will generate a relatively continual level of activity, the site lies on a busy trunk road which already results in a degree of traffic noise."

Mr Jamieson concluded: "I do not consider that it could be held that it would lead to any significant additional noise or disturbance to the adjacent residential properties above that which currently occurs and which could also occur if the site was to reopen as an hotel." 

In a document submitted on behalf of the applicant, planning consultants stated: "The proposed development is intended to provide a modern, small, local supermarket to improve local access to facilities within the catchment of the local settlements of Wemyss Bay and Skelmorlie. Existing convenience floorspace does not meet the requirements of the area."

"A small, appropriately-sized, local supermarket would provide local facilities which would bridge the gap between the small local shops and the major destinations in Greenock and Largs."

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