Housing Association enter fray in Portree supermarket saga

Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association and Rubicon Land Ltd have lodged a planning application in the hope of attracting a new supermarket and petrol filling station on a site at Home Farm in Portree.

They say the plans for a 36,000-square-foot supermarket — about double the size of the Co-op on Dunvegan Road in the village — will address the real need for better shopping facilities and provide much greater choice for local residents.

In addition, a supermarket of this size would create approximately 150 jobs for locals, said a statement by Rubicon.

Housing association chief executive Lachie MacDonald, said: “We are delighted to be part of this project to improve shopping facilities for residents of Portree and the whole of Skye and Lochalsh. This development involves an area of land that we would have difficulty developing for housing in the foreseeable future, and we envisage the receipt from the sale of this land being recycled into other affordable housing projects.”

The directors of Rubicon Land say they are experts in supermarket development and have in recent years carried out numerous supermarket transactions with Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Aldi and the Co-op. The company is currently involved in five significant development projects in Scotland involving major supermarkets, including a large Tesco store about to start construction in Fife.

Colin Taylor, director of Rubicon Land, said: ”This is a very exciting project for Skye. Our initial plans were well received by local residents when we carried out a public consultation exercise in Portree 18 months ago, and since then we have been speaking to potential operators and working up our plans.

“It is fair to say that the supermarket industry has been in turmoil over the past few years, with all the major operators suffering from falling sales which is hitting their store development programme. We are however in regular contact with all the main operators through our other ongoing development projects, and are aware that they are now starting to look for new sites.

“We also know Portree is on their radar, and strongly believe that if we secure planning consent we can finally bring one of the major supermarket operators to Portree.”

He added: “In the current climate, it is vitally important that any planning consent is deliverable, and not dependent on expensive infrastructure requirements. Our site has all the existing services in place, and benefits from easy access to the main road network. This makes our proposals capable of immediate development.

“We are aware of other similar proposals nearby. However, we consider our Home Farm site to be the in the best and the most deliverable location. These are very important considerations for any supermarket operator considering a new store in the town.”

The planning application is now with Highland Council, who will consider it before making a decision in the coming months.