SUPERMARKET giants could be stopped from snapping up small stores under a plan being considered by a Scots council.
Stores such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s have bought hundreds of city centre sites in recent years, leading to fears smaller, independent shops will be wiped out.
But Edinburgh Council is planning a crackdown on the spread of the “big boys”.
Officials are drafting a letter to the Scottish Government asking for powers that would force big supermarkets to get planning permission before taking over smaller rivals.
According to current laws, a retailer can move into empty premises of former shops without having to apply for planning permission.
Locals in the Morningside area of Edinburgh recently protested against the leading coffee chain Costa for trying to open a branch in the area.
But under the proposal, larger chain stores will find it more difficult to move into such areas.
Leonora Luca, 35, who runs the Luca ice-cream shop in the area said: “If this can stop the change Morningside has seen over the last few years it can only be positive.
“You don’t get people coming from far around to go to Starbucks, but they come for distinctive shops we have to offer. It’s important there are strict checks on these developments.”
Green councillor Alison Johnstone has proposed the motion to change the Use Class Order to the Scottish Government, which would allow greater control against leading high-street stores.
She said: “We have to take a step back and look at the number of supermarkets that have been given permission.
“How many can a local economy support before we see the loss of independent shopping in Edinburgh?
“There is a big concern we’ll end up with nothing other than charity shops, coffee shops and supermarkets. We should at least scrutinise every application to prevent that.”
Another councillor Jim Lowrie, backed the plans and said it would benefit other areas with similar concerns.
“There are number of classes of premises but its not very well broken down.
“What the group at Bruntsfield want, which we recognise, is a method of distinguishing between the ordinary trader and a big brand retailer. At the moment, you can’t do that.”
“Another example is you can’t currently differentiate between long-term hostels for the homeless and short-term hostels for backpackers.”
He added: “The feeling at the council is we should try. There is a problem with local traders being overwhelmed by the big boys.”