CAMPAIGNERS fighting fresh plans to build a supermarket in a West Somerset town say they are ‘horrified’ at the prospect.
David Gliddon, of J. Gliddon & Sons, hopes to convert the land behind his existing shop in Bank Street, Williton, into a multi-million pound development including a national food store, shops, homes, car park and a pedestrian link to Fore Street.
The application was originally submitted in early 2011 but now amendments have been made to the plans, which have just been re-submitted.
Mr Gliddon said: “The long-term future of Williton’s shops depends on local people choosing to shop here.
"At the moment too many of them prefer to travel to more distant, cheaper facilities with free parking, including out-of-town stores such as in Minehead. A new supermarket centrally located in Williton would give them an alternative.
“This is a one-off opportunity for Williton and I want the development to help existing businesses and strengthen the whole of the centre to ensure it meets the needs of existing and future residents.
"It will also help increase the attractiveness of Williton to holidaymakers, encouraging them to stop here rather than travel through. The increase in the number of visitors, improved parking and an attractive, traffic-free route to Fore Street will all assist with achieving this aim.”
Claims that the development would create about 150 full- and part-time jobs have done little to ease existing businesses’ worries.
Hugh Davies, owner of Davies Newsagents in Fore Street, said: “I am just horrified, really. We are a rural area and planning to this extent should not be allowed.
“If Morrisons and Tesco in Minehead are finding it tough, how is there scope for a similar development here in Williton? Even if we had a supermarket here, people will still go to Minehead, Bridgwater and Taunton because of the variety of shops those major towns offer.
“I would be finished if it did happen because this development would be right behind me. This shop has been a newsagents for over 100 years and I took it over in 1980.
"I am scared to death about it – it would just ruin us. It could also be goodbye to a first-rate butcher, the Co-Operative, Spar and maybe even the garage.”
The public consultation period on the application (3/39/11/002) runs until March 4, with a decision due on April 25.
For more information, visit www.westsomerset.gov.uk/online-applications