Support shown for Locks Heath supermarket’s alternative plans

Two service users - one, left, who wishes to remain anonymous - and Joanne Buckley

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SUPERMARKET firm the Co-operative is claiming it has been bolstered by community support for its plan for Locks Heath shopping centre.

The firm held an exhibition at Lockswood Community Centre to show its proposal for the regeneration of Locks Heath District Centre to the public.

The store has come up with its ‘alternative’ plan in response to a proposal by Fareham Borough Council.

The council would like to see a new fitness centre and swimming pool in the area and would also like to put a large supermarket on the outskirts of town.

The Co-operative claims that if this new superstore goes ahead, then Locks Heath centre will suffer from a drop in shoppers which would be bad news for the community.

It believes that the council’s plan would seriously damage the viability of the area and take away existing retailers’ trade.

The Co-operative’s counterproposal includes an enhanced leisure centre and an upgrade to its existing food store in Centre Way, taking it to 1,600sq m of floor space.

More than 200 people attended the Co-op’s two-day long display and a survey by the supermarket found that 86 per cent of attendees were in favour of their alternative plan.

Nigel Wicks, operations manager for the Co-operative, said: ‘We were delighted with the turnout, but, what’s more, the support for our alternative proposal was a great indicator that we are suggesting a scheme that local people want.

‘Many people in the area share our concerns about the council’s plan.’

The Co-operative has now lodged an official objection to the council’s plan following the support received at the exhibition.

It will show the counterproposal to council leader Sean Woodward today.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘I am meeting with the Co-op to hear more about their ideas.

‘We welcome any ideas that will improve and be of benefit to the vitality of the centre.

‘The Co-operative have had it too easy for too long.

‘There is no competition in Locks Heath and of late, I think they have let down the people of Locks Heath.

‘I am pleased to hear they are trying to improve their services there.’