A new £6.4m Aldi supermarket has been approved for a small market town in Dumfries and Galloway, despite concerns from the council and some businesses.
The local authority initially said it wanted to turn down the chain’s proposals for Oakwell Road in Castle Douglas.
However, after a lengthy council meeting, it agreed to approve the project with a string of conditions.
In total, there were 25 representations from the public over the proposals – with 20 in favour and five objecting.
Critics said it would cause “significant harm” to Castle Douglas, which is known as the region’s ‘Food Town’ due to the number of independent traders.
Castle Douglas has a Tesco – itself the subject of controversy when it was first proposed – but the closest budget supermarkets are in Dumfries – 16 miles away – or Newton Stewart, which is approximately 21 miles in the opposite direction.
Aldi said the new supermarket would bring more than 30 jobs to the area and offer local residents a cheaper alternative during the cost-of-living crisis.
An spokesperson said: “We can’t wait to bring our offering to the local community in Castle Douglas and across the Stewartry area.
“As the cost-of-living crisis worsens and affects millions of households across the country, we are confident our now approved proposals will make a positive contribution to the area.
“The new store will reduce shopping miles, provide more choice to the area, improve the affordability of weekly food shopping and will also create up to 35 local jobs and deliver a significant investment of around £6.4m into the local area.”
A report by Dumfries and Galloway Council officials warned the project would have an adverse impact on a town with a “strong presence of independent retailers”.
It also said the benefits of the proposals – including generating about £1m a year for the local economy – did not outweigh the harm caused to the town centre.
Councillors were advised to turn down the plans, but instead voted to give them the green light.
Local resident James Bell set up an online petition for people in the town to show their support.
He wrote: “Dumfries and Galloway Council planners have recommended against an application by Aldi to establish a new store in Castle Douglas.
“A few years ago many of us remember the public outcry over Tesco wanting to build a store in Castle Douglas. But since it was built it has proved to be a great asset for the town and has not affected other shops in the ‘High Streets’.”