Split over Sainsbury's Westfield supermarket plans

Plans for a 55,000 sq ft Sainsbury's store in Westfield in Somerset have split the local community.

Some are concerned that a store planned at St Peter's Park could take business away from nearby Radstock and Midsomer Norton and cause traffic problems.

However, other residents have welcomed a large-scale supermarket in the area.

Sainsbury's said the company believed there was a need for a supermarket in the area to "provide people with additional choice".

Over 100 people have signed a petition opposing the plans.

Radstock butcher Chris Mitchard said the size of the proposal was "too big".

He said: "We've got Tesco nearby and Radco in Radstock are also opening a new mini-market near the proposed Sainsbury's site.

'Impact on traders'

"I think with the increased traffic it's going to prove a bit of a nightmare, and I think it's going to impact on local traders as well."

The plans for the development also include a petrol station, cafe, butchers, bakery and delicatessen.

If the proposal is approved, the existing road layout will be revised and a roundabout will replace the traffic lights on the A367 Wells road.

Midsomer Norton Conservative councillor Barry Macrae said he also opposed the plans.

He said: "What Sainsbury's is proposing at the moment is too large. It is out of scale for the location.

"It will suck the local economy dry."

However, Westfield Labour councillor Rob Appleyard said that the feedback he was getting from local residents was that they "like the idea" of a new supermarket.

He said: "Of course we're mindful of our existing small retailers but I'm in favour of looking at the benefit of such a development to the people of Westfield who are currently not able to do a complete shop.

"I think this will give them better choice."

'Good idea'

Local resident Cherish Chivers, who works at the Connect Hair Salon on Wells Road, is also in favour of the development.

She said: "I think its a good idea because at the moment I have to go to Midsomer Norton to do my shopping which is a pain for parking. The whole group of us that work here are all for it.

"If it's just up the road you can just pop up there and get what you want."

A Sainsbury's spokesman said: "We think more people shopping in the area is good for all businesses.

"Clearly there are some local concerns in relation to the traffic and whilst we will put additional traffic onto the Wells road, it's in our interests to make sure we manage that properly."

The spokesman added that during a recent two-day exhibition outlining the company's plans for the site, around 70% of local residents who attended were in favour of the plans.

The company intends to submit a planning application for the proposal within the next two months.

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