The future of Denny’s long awaited town centre looks uncertain following claims a major retailer may pull out of the project.
While Falkirk Council stated this week the project will definitely still be going ahead, members of the opposition believe the initiative, which has already begun its phase one works, is now in jeopardy.
Following reports B&M no longer found the development plans suitable, SNP MP John McNally said: “This is a backward step for the people in the district and it is crucial we tackle this situation and explore every avenue to find another anchor store.
“I am writing to a variety of major national retailers and will ask them to contact Falkirk Council and consider the available development opportunity.
“We have around 10,000 people in Denny and Dunipace who would make great use of a more diverse shopping environment. The extra footfall would, in addition, benefit the independent shops we already have in the town.
“I am also in talks with the TSB as their pulling out of Denny will leave the area with one less vital amenity. This is unacceptable, especially to our older residents.”
He added that Falkirk Council’s economic development leaders have questions to answer on how the retail negotiations have been handled.
However, Council Leader Craig Martin said opposition members had cherry picked certain negative aspects of an updated briefing on the town centre regeneration which was recently circulated among councillors.
Included in the document was a statement from B&M about reconsidering their position in relation to the Denny project as part of a national review of its acquisition strategy.
Councillor Martin said: “As far as we are concerned the project will move ahead until it is completed. There is a problem with B&M because they don’t want to move into small units anymore and want larger units with garden centres.
“However, we are definitely going to deliver a regenerated town centre.”
According to Councillor Martin, the council is now liaising with B&M to see if their new requirements can still be accommodated in Denny.
Phase one of the plan is currently underway in Denny, with Clark Contracts Ltd carrying out the work, which is proceeding to programme.
Works carried out to date include scaffolding being put up at the internal library building and the creation of natural stone cladding, first floor partitions and first floor ventilation, while work has started on the second stage of the car park build.
Falkirk Council has also appointed marketing agents to promote and invite interest in the vacant units within the phase one development. The marketing brief is currently being prepared and will be issued this month.
Three out of the ten units are already committed, with agreements in place with Lloyds Pharmacy, Boots and Café Anton. Unfortunately a commitment was not secured with the TSB Bank after it decided to close its Denny branch.