PLANS to build a new Morrisons superstore in Portsmouth have been welcomed by council and business leaders.
The 30,000 sq ft development will move into the dilapidated Victory Retail Park after the company paid as much as £14m for the site.
Originally bought by furnishings giant Ikea, the land has mostly been sitting empty following the recession.
Now it has been snapped up by Morrisons who believe their new store will bring more than 300 jobs to the city.
It will join Sainsbury’s and Tesco supermarkets which already trade in Portsmouth’s city centre.
The deal was completed after Portsmouth City Council negotiated a land-swap in preparation for expanding the road network serving the city’s Northern Quarter.
Operations director of the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce Maureen Frost said it was a good location for a large supermarket.
‘The retail park has very good transport links in and out of the city,’ she said.
‘I think it is a sensible location for Morrisons to choose.
‘This will also be a more suitable use of the site than what is there now, but I don’t think it would have worked for what Ikea had in mind.
‘It will certainly be good to finally have it back in full use.’
The city’s head of regeneration and economic development, Cllr Mike Hancock, agreed – and said he was not concerned that the city already had enough supermarkets.
He said: ‘Morrisons wouldn’t have come to us if they considered there was a lack of trade in the area.
‘This is where stores want to be now, there’s no longer a desire to build out-of-town stores because of shoppers’ fuel costs and difficulty of some people to get to them.’
But leader of the council’s Conservatives, Cllr Simon Bosher, said that while he was happy to see Morrisons investing in the city it was disappointing that Ikea was staying away.
He said: ‘Not to take anything away from Morrisons, because they will bring jobs and investment, but this is hardly increasing the diversity of shops we have in Portsmouth.
I think the city’s Lib Dems have missed a trick by allowing Ikea to bypass Portsmouth and go to Southampton instead.’