A CAMPAIGNER who led the fight against a supermarket near a village has welcomed a major chain’s decision to axe its plans.
It comes as Sainsbury’s yesterday announced it was dropping plans to open a superstore in Bishop’s Waltham and said the scheme was no longer viable.
Tony Kippenberger, chair of Bishop’s Waltham Action Group said he now wants to see the land at Abbey Mill used in an imaginative way, possibly for a hotel.
He said: ‘We’re naturally very pleased. We’ve fought for five years to try and stop it.
‘We’re very pleased it won’t be going ahead and the threat that hung over the viability of the town high street has been lifted and you won’t have all the traffic and issues and other problems that would come with a superstore on the outskirts of a town with only 6,000 inhabitants.’
The plan first came to light in 2009 and divided the town, with some people opposed to a retail giant moving in, but some in favour of the expanded doctors’ surgery included in the plans.
Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery said he had pressed the firm over its plans for months and met bosses yesterday.
He said: ‘I was told that Sainsbury’s will not be developing the site in Bishop’s Waltham and they will be marketing it to other buyers with immediate effect.
‘This news has clear implications for the town, especially with regards to the GP surgery that will remain in cramped conditions.
‘On the plus side, the decision may lead to housing being built on the land, so lessening the need for greenfield development sites.’
He said the outcome will depend on who buys the land.
Rob Humby, Hampshire County Councillor for Bishop’s Waltham, added: ‘As a town, we now have two important issues to consider – what happens to the Abbey Mill site and how do we ensure that the surgery has the capacity it needs.
‘There is no time to mess about on either issue and I will be meeting with officers from both Winchester City and the county council.’
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said the firm had not taken the decision lightly. In a statement he said: ‘Since the proposals were first announced, shopping patterns have changed considerably and following a review, the scheme is no longer viable for us.’
He added the firm will work with the council and others at options for the site.