Sainsbury’s and two independent retailers were given the ban on the grounds of public health.
The supermarket giant Sainsbury’s were forced to halt plans to open a new store after NHS Lothian warned Edinburgh Licensing Board that it went against attempts to protect public health.
Sainsbury’s banned from selling alcohol in new store
Health boards can now object to new licences but this is the first evidence of them doing so.
In the objections to the Sainsbury’s application, NHS Lothian argued that the Old Town already had one of the highest numbers of alcohol-related injuries in the city.
Today the Scottish Government welcomed the stricter approach, while Dr Evelyn Gillan, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said the move “advanced the public good.”
Councillor Cammy Day, a member of the board, said: “Until now the only evidence we’ve been given when considering applications is related to crime and disorder.
“Now we’re getting hard evidence from NHS Lothian professionals on life expectancy and alcohol admissions to hospital.
“This reflects how alcohol has become one of the biggest social issuesScotlandfaces – and we need to do something about that.”
In Edinburgh alone, there are over 2.5miles of shelves of alcohol being sold in supermarkets across the city.
Global News, on South Bridge,Edinburgh, were also refused a license for the same reasons, while another shop on Dalry Road was also turned down.
Some stores have argued in the past against the new licensing rules.
Earlier this year, Tesco avoided a ban by arguing that residents of Roseburn are healthy and middle class.
They were given the go-ahead for a new licensed shop after a lawyer argued the residents of upmarket Roseburn were “bottle of wine on the way home” drinkers.
But a board member, Eric Barry, said they have been too lenient on previous applications.
He said: “I was very disappointed when Sainsbury’s at Longstone came to us asking for 600 metres of alcohol display – a huge amount – then after they came back again they asked for 300 metres.
“Cheap alcohol is the source of the cheap drinking problem we have in Edinburgh and Scotland. Now the board is waking up to health implications that licensed premises represent.”
To help crack down on lenient licensing, Police were also asked to supply the board with evidence which showed there had been 85 crimes within a 50m radius of the proposed store between last month and the previous March 2011.
A concerned resident in the Cowgate, Catriona Grant, submitted a public objection to the board.
She said: “There are currently issues with street drinking, stag and hen nights blighting the area – another supermarket selling cheap alcohol is not conductive to public safety and public health.”
In 2010, Glasgow Licensing Board also refused permission to supermarkets to expand alcohol displays, because it was detrimental to the wellbeing of the city.
Jim Sherval, a specialist in public health at NHS Lothian said: “NHS Lothian has been working closely with the licensing board to better understand the link between licensing patterns and the effects of alcohol on the population of Edinburgh.”
A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “Sainsbury’s is disappointed with the licensing refusal for the South Bridge store.
“The South Bridge store would be a major investment for Edinburgh and would regenerate this site. We are currently reviewing options before deciding our next steps.”