Nostalgia 1986: Asda in Kirkcaldy and a road sign branded ‘a monstrosity’

It’s long established as one of Kirkcaldy’s most popular supermarkets but Asda’s beginnings in town came amid a storm of controversy.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 11th April 2020, 10:22 am
Asda sign in 1986 before construction work started.
Asda sign in 1986 before construction work started.

The retail giant’s plans to build its Kirkcaldy store at Mitchelston came up against tide of opposition from Kirkcaldy District Council, the Chamber of Commerce and a number of local businesses in September, 1986 – with accusations of “arrogance” thrown in for good measure.

Despite applications from two other companies, Norfolk House and Malcolm Gray Ltd, also under consideration, Muir Group, the developers for Asda, erected two large signs on the site, one of which proclaimed that 450 new jobs were on the way.

Asda’s plans included a supermarket, filling station, 16 industrial units and a furniture production and sales unit at Mitchelston Industrial Estate.

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A Glasgow firm of chartered surveyors acting on behalf of Muir’s claimed they had been “inundated” with applications for jobs from Fife youngsters, but angry members of the District Council’s Planning Committee called the signs, which had been constructed without planning permission, “quite disgraceful” and agreed unanimously to take immediate enforcement action to ensure they were dismantled.

Councillor Daniel Leslie, Kirkcaldy (Labour), said one sign was so close to a roundabout it created a road hazard.

He sais: “It is absolutely ridiculous that this supposedly reputable company has put up this monstrosity.

”There will be an accident there unless something is done about it very soon.’

The Council Convener, Councillor Robert King, Glenrothes (Labour), said he had been “shocked” to see the sign, whilst Cllr James W. Brodie, Kirkcaldy (Liberal), agreed and pointed out that 450 new jobs – he did not know how many of these would be part-time – would have to be set against the loss of established posts in existing supermarkets and shops.

Cllr Robert Taylor, Glenrothes (Labour), added: “This is an arrogant and insensitive step by the company who must know the public controversy which surrounds this issue.
However John Muir, managing director of the Muir Group, said he was surprised at the reaction of the councillors, claiming it was standard practice for developers to erect such signs prior to work commencing.

He said: “I can only apologise to the District Council if that is the way they feel about these signs and we will certainly comply with whatever they want done.”

Mr Muir stressed that there was no question of the Mitchelston development being categorised as a “speculative venture”.

He said the company was poised to act “at an alarming rate” to build what would be the company’s showpiece store in Scotland, open and trading by Christmas 1987.

He said he expected to receive full planning permission to proceed, adding: “I have no reason to suppose that the full permission will not come in the normal manner.”

Simon Ives, the company’s development surveyor, said he regretted any interpretation of arrogance or insensitivity with regard to ASDA’s tactics.

He said: “That is certainly not our intention, but we are very keen to press on as soon as possible.”