DIVISIVE plans to build a superstore in Bishop’s Waltham have been approved after a five-hour meeting.
Councillors at Winchester City Council voted on the plans to build a Sainsbury’s store on the old Abbey Mill site.
But the voting was controversially tied at four votes each, with the chairman Councillor Robert Johnston getting the deciding vote and giving the supermarket the green light.
The plans will include the relocation of the doctors’ surgery.
Before the meeting, between 250 and 300 people marched into the Guildhall holding placards and chanting ‘say no to Sainsbury’s’.
The room inside Winchester Guildhall was full to the brim, with all 350 seats snapped up.
The plans have divided the town and the council received a total of 6,311 objections, and 5,430 letters of support for the supermarket.
When the decision was announced there were cries of disappointment from members of the public.
Peter Watson, chairman of Bishop’s Waltham Another View, which supports the plans, said: ‘I’m absolutely ecstatic with the news. I feel it’s the right decision for Bishop’s Waltham although it’s very obvious that many feel it’s going to be harmful for the high street.
‘But I still can’t help feeling that the members were right to vote the way that they did.
‘In the long term I feel Bishop’s Waltham will thrive.
‘People will look back on this and in hindsight say it was the right decision.’
Meanwhile, Tony Kippenberger, chairman of the Bishop’s Waltham Action Group, which opposes the plans said: ‘Obviously I am very disappointed. For a moment I thought it was going to be refused.
‘But we have had fantastic support. It’s been unbelievable.’
Councillor Frank Pearce, who voted for the plans, said: ‘It’s a very, very difficult decision. But it will be beneficial to the people of Bishop’s Waltham and the surrounding areas. I am sure that the shops will benefit in the long term.’
Councillor Therese Evans, who voted against the plans, said: ‘I think it will have an impact on Bishop’s Waltham and it will affect the vitality and the viability of the town centre.’