Planning officers were today accused of putting the needs of a business before a community’s.
Aberdeenshire Council planners have recommended the refusal of four supermarket developments near Stonehaven.
In planning reports to Kincardine and Mearns area committee, the impact a large supermarket would have on shops in the town – and in particular the existing Co-op on David Street – was raised as a concern.
Phil Mills-Bishop, who is planning secretary on Stonehaven and District Community Council, criticised the comments.
He said: “It is prejudice and somewhat inconceivable that planning officers publicly support a particular business i.e. the Co-op and the impact on the town square.”
Mr Mills-Bishop said money was being lost as people travelled further afield to Banchory, Portlethen and Montrose for their shopping.
He added that the Stonehaven community wants a large supermarket.
He added: “Elected members should, in this case, hear the voice of the community and not the voice of planning officials.”
Aberdeenshire Council’s head of planning Robert Gray said it is necessary through planning policy to carry out a retail impact assessment.
He added: “The impacts on the existing Co-op store forms part of this assessment.
“The views expressed in the reports are professional opinions based on planning policy taking all aspects of the application into account and councillors will consider all representations to the application in making a decision.”