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Takeaway Plans Rejected

Scotmid’s plans to turn a vacant retail unit on Penicuik’s High Street into a takeaway have been formally rejected by the council despite the Head of Communities and Economy’s recommendation to approve.

This Tuesday’s meeting of Midlothian Council’s planning committee saw the members vote against granting permission for “change of use” of 24 High Street to allow it to operate as a hot food takeaway.

The controversial plans evoked a strong reaction from the surrounding business owners, with 22 surrounding businesses signing a petition to ask for refusal of the application by the property’s owners Scotmid. Penicuik’s Community Council also objected to the proposals by saying:

The ex-butchers shop has been empty for several years, and while it would be welcome to have it open rather than closed, the council thought it would not be compatible with the image that is needed for the High Street.

Despite these objections however, Midlothian Council’s Head of Communities and Economy, Ian Johnson, recommended that planning permission was granted, sparking calls by some that the council were receiving bribes from Scotmid, as one of you said on our Facebook page:

If the council pass this then they need to look at who’s pockets are lined! (Lesley Ramage via Facebook)

However, the committee did not see an appropriate argument in Mr Johnson’s recommendation and as such the application was refused, citing the over concentration of hot food takeaway’s and restaurants in the town centre. At the time of writing, three eateries remain vacant, the former Chen’s Kitchen, Ricky’s Chinese Takeaway and Salsa’s Diner, who successfully overturned a refusal of “change of use” to operate as a café before closing later.

Scotmid can still appeal the decision though, and with the owner desperate to find an occupant, it is likely they will do everything possible to get the local authority to grant permission.

What do you think of the decision? What is your vision of Penicuik in the year 2020? Comment below or write a letter to the editor, Alternatively tweet using the hashtag #SavePenicuik.