East Dunbartonshire councillors green light plans to redevelop B&Q site despite concerns over impact on small businesses

Councillors have allowed a DIY store in Bishopbriggs to be redeveloped, despite concerns over the possible impact on town centre businesses.

However, it remains to be seen if the plans will actually go ahead with a hefty financial settlement set to increase the cost.

B&Q sought permission from East Dunbartonshire Council (EDC) to convert its existing premises at Strathkelvin Retail Park into two new units, while opening a new garden centre on the site currently occupied by a building yard.

Planning officers recommended refusing the application on the grounds it would conflict with policy designed to protect the ongoing effort to promote Bishopbriggs Town Centre.

The application was continued from a previous planning committee meeting so councillors could get more information about the conditions to be imposed, particularly a legal settlement which would see the developer pay a further £650,000 on top of the estimated £5m cost of the project itself.

This amount is based on the extent of trade diversion this development is anticipated to cause, with retail consultants putting this at 13 per cent – B&Q’s own consultants estimated this at just 3.5 per cent.

This money would be put towards the council’s town centre strategy.

The continuation meant some members of the planning board, who had missed the previous session, were barred from voting.

The applicant has not yet indicated whether this additional cost would affect the viability of its plans.

Approval came with a list of 20 conditions, including a requirement that any electric vehicle charging bays be approved by the planning committee prior via a separate application – a total of 12 electric vehicle charging spaces are planned, with the potential to add a further six.

Councillor Stewart MacDonald (Labour, Kirkintilloch East and North and Twechar) opposed the plans.

He said: “I am very concerned about the disparity from three per cent to 13 per cent diversion form existing trade.

"That seems a hell of a jump and I think there are serious questions that need to be asked on that,” adding that he was unsure how the financial settlement would actually improve matters.

“Bishopbriggs Town Centre is in a period of regeneration that has been a long time coming and I have got a horrible feeling that if we were to approve this that regeneration will be stopped in its tracks.”

Councillor Lynda Williamson (SNP, Bishopbriggs North and Campsie) moved to grant the application subject to the proposed conditions. She said: “I feel the regeneration benefit that the development will bring would not be outweighed by the impact on the town centre. I think the impact on the town centre would be mitigated by the contribution and the conditions that we apply.”

In the following debate members were divided between the prospect of B&Q closing its store if its plans were blocked versus the possible impact on town centre traders, but ultimately voted 7-4 to grant planning permission.