NEW retirement flats could be delivered in the centre of a Somerset coastal town as a local supermarket outlet seeks to downsize.

The Co-operative Group Ltd. has joined forces with McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyles Ltd. to propose the creation of 35 flats to the south of the existing Co-operative Food store between The Avenue and Summerland Avenue in the centre of Minehead.

The proposals will see the existing food store being replaced with a more modern outlet, with the retirement flats and associated facilities being delivered to the rear.

Somerset Council will make a decision on the proposals by the early-summer.

The site lies in the heart of Minehead town centre, within walking distance of a wide range of shops, the seafront and the Blenheim Gardens green space.

The retirement properties will be a mixture of 24 one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom flats, with access being provided to a residents’ lounge and communal gardens on the ground floor and a number of rooms being aside to allow family members to stay overnight.

A total of 21 parking spaces will be provided for the flats, with a further 19 for the retail unit and storage being put aside for mobility scooters and bicycles.

The new food store will have a combined floor space of around 4,400 sq ft, with deliveries still being able to use the existing side road between Summerland Avenue and The Avenue.

Because the site does not feed into the Somerset Levels and Moors catchment area, no additional phosphate mitigation is required – meaning development could begin reasonably quickly once permission has been granted.

A spokesman for PBL (representing the developers) said: “The Co-op is not able to compete effectively with other superstores in Minehead and is already operating as a convenience store in this location, meaning that it is just too large for the range of goods that it sells.

“Having a smaller food store within the town to serve a top-up role allows the Co-op to differentiate itself from those other food stores and compete effectively with them.

“As a result, the Co-op has been eager to explore downsize opportunities to reduce the sales floorspace so that it can perform the role of a convenience store and to be able to take advantage of longer trading hours on Sundays.

“This is important during the summer months when Minehead sees a tourism increase. This takes account of the existing food store competition in Minehead and is the optimal size of food store for the Co-op in this location.”

Somerset Council is expected to make a decision on the plans by the end of spring. It is not currently clear whether this decision will be taken in public by its planning committee west (which handles major applications within the former Somerset West and Taunton area) or through the delegated powers of its planning officers.