PLANS for a Morrisons supermarket in Christchurch have been recommended for approval ahead of a crucial planning meeting next week.

If granted permission, the supermarket on the site of Beagle Technology in Stony Lane will be the third to be given the go-ahead in Christchurch in the past 12 months.

It is the third time the application, which includes 355 car parking spaces and two other units, has come before the committee, having been refused twice in the past, with one of those decisions scrapped by the council and retaken before it was rejected for a second time.

In a report to members, officers say the applicant Simons Developments Ltd has moved the site of the store and reduced its height.

In total, 426 people have pledged their support to the scheme, welcoming the competition between food stores and highway improvements with 241 objections lodged in opposition to potential traffic problems and impact on town centre.

A report from Forum Heritage says they think the design has a negative impact on the area but if changes proposed by English Heritage are introduced, they could address their concerns.

A retail assessment on the supermarket’s impact on the town centre concludes the impact of the supermarket could be positive, or if it is slightly negative, will be offset by a package of measures from the developers.

This includes £485,000 to fund the preparation of a bespoke town centre action plan, and highways improvements to the sum of £1million, which Simons consultant Luke Pickering says will improve traffic flow.

The supermarket, which will create 300 jobs, could divert £2.15million of trade from the town centre but this will be offset by £6million of additional spin-off trade from linked visits from Morrisons to High Street shops, the planning report says.

This is based on 38.5 per cent of people who go to Morrisons then venture into the town centre.

Beagle’s legal agreement

IF the plans are approved Beagle Technology Group will sign a legal agreement to relocate within Christchurch to safeguard local jobs.

An agreement ensuring that new jobs go to local people will be set-up with collaboration with Job Centre Plus.