HOME Bargains is to extend its Christchurch store into the neighbouring unit – creating more jobs in an £850,000 project.

The planning consent will also allow the Christchurch Retail Park business to sell a wider range of goods, including a limited range food and drink, clothing and footwear.

The move, said to only involve minor external changes, will see Home Bargains take over the next door former Harveys and Bensons for Beds store, which has been vacant after the company went into administration 14 months ago.

The effect will be to more than double the space available to Home Bargains although the removal of the mezzanine floor in the empty unit will result in an combined loss of 680square metres of retail floorspace.

A statement submitted in support of the planning application said: “The proposals will secure the long-term occupation of [the unit] and will allow Home Bargains to upsize into an amalgamated adjoining vacant unit.

"The proposal will result in an increase depth within the existing product ranges.”

Once completed the expanded Home Bargains store will have around 70 full and part-time jobs.

The company, which has more than 540 UK stores employing more than 25,000 staff, is said to be one of the fastest growing discount retailers in the UK.

It says the larger Christchurch store will fit better with its business model. It had looked at other sites in the town for a bigger store but says it was unable to find anything suitable.

Christchurch town council had not commented on the application and BCP Council planners received no objections from local people by the May 22 deadline.

A planning reports concluded that the change in items which the shop can sell should not have any effect on other retailers, especially those in the town centre.

Conditions of the consent include adding eight cycle parking spaces and a 15 per cent limit on the store area which can be used for food and drink; toys; books, newspapers and magazines; footwear and sports goods; jewellery and chemists goods.

The Daily Echo contacted Home Bargains for details on when the expansion will take place, but at the time of going to print no response had been provided.