Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Bishops Waltham Sainsbury's opponents will 'fight on'

Protests
Image caption Opinion about the development in the market town is split

Opponents of a new supermarket in Bishops Waltham, near Winchester, have pledged to continue their campaign, despite plans being given the go-ahead.

Winchester City Council agreed plans on Thursday for a Sainsbury's store on the Abbey Mill site, which is also expected to help fund relocating a GP surgery.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles will now decide whether to order a further planning inquiry.

Campaigner Tony Kippenburger said: "We fight on, it's not over yet."

Winchester City Council's planning committee voted in favour of the plans on Thursday while a protest was held outside. With voting tied, the decision was made by the chairman's casting vote.

Mr Kippenburger said: "Obviously it's a serious disappointment but we'll do whatever we can do to get the secretary of state to call it in. It doesn't stop here."

Divided shoppers

Because of the size of the development, Mr Pickles will now decide whether to order a further inquiry into the plans.

Campaigners fought a two-year battle over the plans, arguing the store would have a negative impact on the character of the market town and damage high street trade. But many residents backed the 35,000sq ft (3,251sq m) store.

Resident Helen Campbell, who supported the application, said it would be more convenient than travelling the seven miles (11km) to a supermarket in Hedge End.

Image caption Sainsbury's said the store would create more than 300 jobs

"I think it will be very good for the town, I don't think it will affect the centre of the town," she said.

"I will continue to do limited shopping within the town, but do my main shop at Sainsbury's rather than at Hedge End."

Winchester council officers had recommended the plan for approval.

The authority said it had received thousands of letters in support of and against the development.

Sainsbury's said the supermarket would help finance the £1.6m relocation of the doctors' surgery to the site and the store would create more than 300 jobs.

Spokesman Bruno Moore said: "Rather than detracting from the character of the high street, we'll be adding to it by bringing more shoppers back to the town."

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