PLANS for a new retail park on the outskirts of Barrhead have been hailed as ‘an excellent opportunity’.

The development would be based on the site of the former Nestlé factory, in Glasgow Road, and include a budget supermarket, hotel, garden centre, pub and drive-thru restaurants.

Business leaders have welcomed the plans and the employment opportunities they would bring to Barrhead.

Laura Molloy, chair of East Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “As far as we are aware, this is part of a huge masterplan development for the area.

“Overall, the development of East Renfrewshire through projects such as this, from our point of view, will bring significant investment to the area and we welcome that. This is an excellent opportunity for East Renfrewshire.

“This gives a great opportunity for the area and will hopefully bring many jobs. We support Work East Renfrewshire to help residents find employment and this is a big opportunity for businesses in Barrhead.”

The site was operated by pet food firm Spillers before being taken over by Nestle Purina.

More than 500 people worked at the factory in its heyday and it was one of Barrhead’s largest employers, behind Shanks.

However, the plant closed its doors for the last time in 2004 and was demolished in October 2012.

Developers London and Scottish Investments submitted initial plans for the retail park earlier this year, with community groups now being informed.

Initial modelling of visitor numbers have suggested that as many as 300 people could visit the new stores and restaurants every hour during peak times.

Nearly 400 parking spaces are included in the plans.

Similar proposals put forward in 2007 suggested that retail units, a drive-thru restaurant and a car showroom could be built but these plans were rejected by East Renfrewshire Council, with a subsequent appeal upholding the decision.

This time around, developers have suggested significant changes to the public roads adjacent to the site, including widening access, improving pedestrian networks and an overhaul of an existing roundabout.

An assessment by East Renfrewshire Council has criticised the lack of parking spaces, claiming this could lead to inappropriate parking during peak times which could “compromise road safety.”

There are also concerns over the possible impact on smaller businesses in Barrhead town centre.

Paul Santi, chair of Barrhead Improvement District, said: “If this project is going to bring jobs to Barrhead, then I am all for it. As long as it is not taking customers away from elsewhere, that’s absolutely fine.

“Will it affect the Main Street? Probably not but we will have to wait and see.”