SUPERMARKET developers in Christchurch have won an appeal amending plans for a proposed store.

The Meteor Retail Park site off Somerford Road was refused permission earlier this year for revised plans.

The scheme sought to amalgamate two proposed retail units on the site into the main food store, without increasing the size of the total retail space.

There was already existing permission for a supermarket on the site – formerly Stylesouth Interiors and PC World – along with two separate retail units.

But concerns over the effect of the supermarket on the town centre shops led councillors at Christchurch council’s planning committee to refuse the revised scheme, despite the offer of 160 jobs, a £500,000 town centre fund and highway improvements.

However, now an appeal inspector has allowed the appeal, saying the proposals would not have a ‘significant adverse effect on the vitality and viability of the town centre’.

Despite the positive decision for the developers, it could yet be some time before progress is visible at the site, due to continuing problems in the food retailers market. Competition, discount food stores and changes in shopping habits means more pressure is being put on the ‘big’ four’ – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

And while it is not known, who is in the frame for the Somerford-site, acquisition decisions are taking longer than previously, leading to delays in development.

Tom Whiteheard, pictured, from developer’s Brookhouse said: “This allows us to get a little closer to what an operator wants.

“However, the enduring problem is the retail occupants market is struggling and operators are taking a painfully long time to make decisions.”