Controversial Waitrose Helensburgh store plans cleared
Controversial proposals by supermarket chain Waitrose to build a store opposite a school in Helensburgh have been approved.
Planners had recommended rejection of an application for a food store and petrol station opposite Hermitage Academy on Cardross Road.
But Argyll and Bute Council's planning committee cleared the plans following a public hearing in the town.
More than 260 people attended the eight-hour hearing in Victoria Hall.
Planning committee chairman Daniel Kelly said the proposal had generated strong reactions both in favour and against.
He said: "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.
"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."
Waitrose - which is part of John Lewis - has claimed Helensburgh town centre could benefit by up to £4m a year in spin-off expenditure from the store.
Waitrose spokesman Martin Gorman said: "We are very pleased to have secured planning permission for a new store in Helensburgh and plan to open our doors to customers in early 2013, bringing 180 much-needed local jobs and putting Helensburgh firmly back on the map as a quality shopping destination."