Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Bishops Waltham Sainsbury's comes closer to being built

Proposed store
Image caption The action group is concerned the proposed site encompasses an archaeological site

A controversial new Sainsbury's in Hampshire is closer to going ahead as the government decided not to call in the planning decision.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles backed Winchester City Council on the Bishops Waltham supermarket, to be built on the Abbey Mill site.

Campaigners who have fought a two-year battle over the plans had hoped Mr Pickles would overturn the decision.

But some residents are in favour of the 35,000 sq ft (3,215sqm) store.

The communities secretary had the opportunity to order the decision be "called in" - which would have prompted a public inquiry into the scheme.

But the government's planning manager wrote: "The government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible."

Winchester City Council's planning committee voted in favour of Sainsbury's plans in April. The vote was tied and only decided by the chairman's casting decision.

But the possibility of a judicial review remains.

Robin Shepherd, a member of the Bishop's Waltham Action Group, said until the planning application had been signed off, which has not happened, there can be further submissions.

Ancient Monument Land

The action group is concerned the proposed site encompasses an archaeological site: "There's something over 3,000 sq m (32,000 sq ft) of scheduled ancient monument land that they're intending to build on".

Mr Shepherd is also concerned about the impact of Sainsbury's on the community.

He said: "This would be the first market rural town in the country that is served only by B roads to have a large, overpowering superstore."

But for some Bishops Waltham residents, the new Sainsbury's is a positive development. More than 75% of people in the area already do their main weekly shop outside the town.

Sainsbury's has also pledged to provide a new surgery for the community. The one currently used is 25 years old and serves 4,000 more people than it was designed to accommodate.

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