DEVELOPERS behind a proposed bulky goods retail park on Fort William’s North Road have lodged a new planning application aimed at helping them attract a wider range of retailers to the site.
Cheshire-based Morbaine Limited is seeking Highland Council approval to vary three conditions set down in its recently renewed permission for the shops development on an area of land adjacent to the A82, between the Rio Tinto Alcan junction and the Ford car showroom.
The planning bid aims to widen the range of non-food retail goods and size of shops.
While marketing of the site has met with a “positive” response from retailers, despite the on-going economic uncertainty, Morbaine say restrictions on the permission are limiting the site’s appeal.
Director Alex Brodie told the Lochaber News: “We’re still actively promoting the site through our Edinburgh agents.
“Not a lot is happening in the general marketplace but we do have some good names coming forward.
“Unfortunately, I can’t name them at the moment because the negotiations are at a very early stage.
“We recently extended our permission for the site for another three years, something we’re required to do under the planning laws.
“We’ve now put forward a second application to amend some of the conditions which we feel will allow us a bit more freedom on site.”
Mr Brodie added: “With our bulky goods permission there is a formula restriction on the type and size of stores.
“At the time it wasn’t too much of an issue but now all we are seeking is a level playing field with what’s been granted for the Blar Mhor site – a lifting of restrictions on the type and size of unit.
“A trimming of the conditions will make it much easier for us to market the site.
“We’ve had a lot of good positive interest. Retailers we are speaking to like North Road and the fact it’s on the A82.
“However, we need to get the volume. We’ve got 55,000sq ft of land to occupy so it’s vital we get a critical mass of retailers on board."
Seven years after the company first outlined its vision for North Road and after several high-profile planning battles, Mr Brodie stressed the firm remained fully committed to seeing out the project.
He said: “The economic climate is not great but I’d just like the people of Fort William to know that we haven’t gone away; we haven’t given up on the town.
“We are still very much here, marketing the site and hopefully, once the economy starts to turn a corner, we’ll see big progress.”