New superstore gets backing from planners

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CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new supermarket in Bishop’s Waltham look set to be given the go-ahead.

Proposals to build a Sainsbury’s superstore and a doctors’ surgery were submitted to Winchester City Council last year.

Now, planning officers are recommending councillors give permission for the store to be built on the old Abbey Mill site in the town.

The plans have split residents.

A 4,500-signature petition backed by TV star Amanda Holden opposing the plans was handed into the council last year. But about 5,000 letters of support have also been written.

Peter Watson, chairman of Bishop’s Waltham Another View, the group in support of the plans, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted.

‘It’s going to give people who don’t have their own transport more choice of shopping.

‘And it’s going to create more jobs which is fantastic.

‘I am crossing my fingers and quietly praying that common sense will prevail and that councillors will see the positives and not get weighed down by the negativity.’

Council officers said the development would ‘respond positively to the character and appearance of the area’ and that it would ‘not have a significantly harmful impact on the town centre’.

Tony Kippenberger, chairman of the Bishop’s Waltham Action Group, which is against the store, said: ‘We’re not surprised. We were afraid this would happen and now we have to rely on city councillors having more sense.

‘Currently in Bishop’s Waltham there are eight shop premises either now vacant or about to be vacated.

‘The high street is in enough trouble without this happening. People come here because it’s one of the few remaining country market town high streets.’

A final decision will be made at Winchester Guildhall on Thursday, April 7, at 2pm.