Eastern Western Dundee dealership under construction, via Eastern Western websiteEastern Western Dundee dealership under construction, via Eastern Western website


£10m car showroom stuck in limbo as delays to opening cost dealer group thousands a day

  • Eastern Western Motor Group planned to open Dundee showroom on December 1
  • Concerns over fireproofing that left project manager ‘gobsmacked’ have led to delay
  • MD blasts council for being ‘anti-business’ and warns over future big investments
  • Council says it takes fire safety ‘extremely seriously’

Time 11:23 am, December 20, 2023

A new car showroom in Dundee has been forced to postpone its opening date indefinitely after a series of delays that are said to be costing it dearly.

Eastern Western Motor Group had planned to open the Lexus and Toyota dealership on December 1, creating more than 60 jobs, after spending £10m on transforming the former Levi’s factory site.

But according to the Courier and Evening Telegraph, it’s been put on hold and lies empty – at a cost of £20,000 a day – because the city council won’t sign it off after fears about its fireproofing.

The Car Dealer Top 100 firm needs the council to grant it a temporary occupation certificate and used car licence as well as getting the green light from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

But the emergency service has a two-month backlog of applications, and the council won’t approve it without hearing from the SFRS first.

Eastern Western group managing director Keith Duncan was quoted by the Courier and Evening Telegraph as saying: ‘We have been building showrooms for decades and we’ve never experienced anything like this in our lives.

‘The process with planning was relatively straightforward, but building control has been nightmarish.’

He also called it ‘very frustrating’, adding: ‘Considering building standards are moving on, everything you build is better than the last. We’ve built this to a standard we’ve never built a dealership before.

‘The council has stood behind every minutia to avoid helping us.’

Duncan said the delays had already cost Eastern Western some £380,000, and the workers who were due to start at the beginning of this month had been found other jobs for the time being.

‘I’ve said to the council we’ve got 65 people working here and it puts those jobs at risk. It’s off the scale.’

He blasted the council, saying: ‘It has been referred to the fire brigade, but they’ve apparently got a two-month backlog of these certificates. The council knew that, and it was just an anti-business thing.’

Duncan said the problem arose after somebody raised concerns about flames possibly making their way round where the fireproof wall met the fireproof roof.

‘After a lot of toing and froing, they weren’t prepared to sign it off. Our project manager is gobsmacked,’ he added.

Duncan also said the affair had damaged Eastern Western’s reputation, calling it ’embarrassing’ and warning it would now have second thoughts about such major investments.

He added that the timeframe for opening the Dunsinane Road site was now ‘totally open-ended’.

The Courier and Evening Telegraph quoted a council spokesperson as saying: ‘Building standards officers are currently in contact with the company about their application and the consultation, which needs to be concluded with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service before any temporary occupation certificate can be considered.

‘Fire safety is always taken extremely seriously and the input of the SFRS is essential. We will continue to discuss matters directly with the developers.’

The SFRS was reported to have said it had received the building warrant for the site during the consultation process and would give a response ‘in due course’.

The development followed Peter Vardy closing in Dundee, and Duncan said on the group’s website earlier this year: ‘I take no satisfaction in Peter Vardy announcing its intention to close in Dundee, but it did create a pool of talent which we could choose from.

‘Toyota and Lexus are brilliant brands – they have been on the front foot of eco technology for a long time.’

At the time, he praised Dundee City Council for being ‘pragmatic’ in giving permission for the development, which was initially zoned as commercial land.

It’ll be powered by solar panels, have LED lighting and harvest rainwater.

Image via Eastern Western website

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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