Dunfermline shopkeepers slam council for not highlighting proposed bar to store conversion
A retailing family serving a Dunfermline housing estate have vowed to carry on with a planned major store investment programme after learning a pub less than 100 yards away may be converted to a competing store.
Father and son Mohammed and Saqib Sharif, owners of H&F Stores in Mercer Place, Touch, say they learned of the development from customers shortly after finalising plans for their own extensive refurbishment.
They anticipate the new store – which they think is likely to be a One Stop – will have serious consequences for their business and feel let down that the council didn’t warn them about any proposed development sooner.
“For the past year I’ve been planning to refurbish the store. I’ve had to get building warrants, planning permission and just recently put a deposit down so the refit will be going ahead,” said Saqib, who aims to take over the running of the business from his father.
“Then we found out that the pub had been bought over in auction and they’re planning to open a new store there. We hear it’s a Tesco-owned One Stop.
“We weren’t told anything or given any kind of a heads-up, even though the council had our application and knew everything we were planning. None of our councillors said anything to us, though we’ve heard rumours that they’ve been showing people around the unit.
“We felt it would have been nice if instead of helping One Stop, the council could have asked us about our plans and helped us.”
The application itself does not mention Tesco or One Stop, and was submitted by ‘East End Inn Ltd’ seeking ‘alterations and change of use of public bar to retail unit’.
However, the website of chartered surveyors Graham and Sibbald advertises the property as a retail investment opportunity and lists the tenant as One Stop Stores Ltd.
H&S Stores has served the local community for 37 years, and Mohammed and Saqib say they are heartened by the support they have received. At the time of going to press, more than 50 written objections had been received by Fife Council.
While many point to the effect the proposed store could have on the Sharifs’ business, concerns have also been raised about traffic congestion, safety implications for a nearby school and plans to re-site a bus stop.
“Most people are not happy about it and there are really good comments supporting us,” said Saqib. “I don’t know if it will make a difference, but it feels good to have the support of the community.
“We’ve been very worried. Initially we were very concerned about all the money we’ve put into our refit, asking if it was worth it, if we could even survive. But after speaking with people we’ve grown a bit more positive. We think we can fight on, but it will be a lot of hard work.”
One Stop did not respond to requests for comment.