LOCAL businesses received a nasty shock in their Christmas stocking this week with another cafe planned for the High Street.
Planning requests have been submitted to West Lothian Council to change the old Clydesdale Bank building at 68 High Street from a bank into a cafe, and to make major repairs to the property.
But with at least 10 cafes on the High Street from the West Port to the Regent Centre, some businesses are exasperated at the latest development.
Gary Mills, owner of the Soft Spot at 54 High Street, said: “As we appear to have enough eateries in Linlithgow already to feed half of Scotland, what is the council even thinking entertaining such a foolish idea?”
Gary has been at the Soft Spot for the last decade but the business has been part of the town for the past 35 years.
He added: “If you count up all the cafes, pubs and takeaways, there around 25 from the Ashmaan to the Regent Centre. There’s also the cafe at the canal basin, and the Star and Garter will have a cafe when they open next year - it’s getting to a ludicrous stage.
“This is not something that Linlithgow needs - we want something that will benefit the town. Everybody I speak to says, ‘not another cafe!’ I put a comment up on Facebook and 90 per cent of folk who responded said they didn’t want another cafe - it’s a piece of nonsense.”
Although traders concede it would be good to have the building occupied, they say locals need to buy into the town if they are all to survive.
Sandra Robertson, owner of hair salon Elle at 264-266 High Street, said: “As someone that lives in Linlithgow, I love it, but people need to support their town. People want the postcode but they don’t want to shop here.
“Out of the 13,000 people in the town, there must be roughly 7-8,000 adults, but we don’t see them in the pubs at the weekends so they must be going elsewhere.”
In June, the Journal and Gazette reported that the Clydesdale Bank would move out of the 68 High Street building in September, as substantial structural repairs were needed. But plans put forward this week will tackle the structural issues for anyone wishing to take on the building.
James Barr Limited are agents for the building’s landlord Heron Property, and they insist the cafe application is a way to make the property more attractive for someone to take on.
Elaine Anderson of James Barr Ltd said: “We have no occupier for the property at the moment, but the owners are trying to open up the potential uses of the unit. Theoretically the building could still be a bank or an estate agents, but if this application goes through it could also be used as a cafe. We want to broaden the options available.
“The cafe would operate in general working hours and would be serving coffee and sandwiches, but no hot food.”
As to the repairs, Elaine added: “We are trying to make the building more structurally sound, and we want to make sure there is no subsidence. We need to strengthen the building as it’s leaning to one side, so we’re looking at the walls and structural foundations on the ground floor, and working with neighbouring properties.”
The closing date for comments to West Lothian Council on the plans is January 11, 2013.
nWhat’s your view? Does Linlithgow need another cafe, or is the town inundated already? If not this, what do you want to see moving into the bank? Email editorial @journalandgazette.co.uk or write to 114 High Street, Linlithgow EH49 7AQ.