HUNDREDS of people were offered a free buffet at a packed-out church hall showing plans for a new discount supermarket.
Lidl held the exhibition yesterday at Portchester Methodist Church, on Castle Street, to gauge public opinion on a site in Castle Trading Estate.
As reported, the supermarket wants to spend £4m turning the former Homewood Interiors unit into a store, creating about 40 jobs.
Jason Gratton, property director at Lidl, said: ‘The support has been tremendous. This is in response to the mailshots we have done – to date around 48,000 letters – as well as various petitions and polls showing in excess of 90 per cent in support.’
Many residents attended the event to see the plans and sample some of the free food Lidl had put out.
Jean Gray, 78, from Dore Avenue, said: ‘We desperately need it. There’s nothing apart from charity shops in the district centre and the Co-op where the choice is so limited.’
Portchester East ward councillor Geoff Fazackarley said: ‘It will generate trade for the area and it will bring jobs to the people of Portchester and create healthy competition.’
However not everyone was in favour with a few residents opposing the change of use, which would see the site change from industrial use to retail.
Peter Allen, 80, from The Keep, said: ‘It’s fundamentally an industrial site and the precinct is for retail. I believe Lidl is in the wrong place.’
Mr Gratton added: ‘A few people have raised issues over the siting of the development but you have to go with the critical mass and they say that the district centre is not suitable for a further large supermarket. The car park is a valuable amenity and local groups as well as the shops and people have said they would like to see us within Portchester but at Castle Trading Estate.’
Once Lidl has analysed all the feedback, it will submit a formal planning application, which if successful, could see a supermarket built in six months.