MORRISONS will generate up to £6.7m a year for Wallingford’s economy, according to the supermarket chain.
A planning application has been submitted for a new food store on the Hithercroft estate, bringing £25m of investment, 300 new full and part-time jobs, a filling station and a 280-space car park.
The chain has pledged to fund more frequent bus journeys between Wallingford town centre and the industrial park where it wants to build the store.
But some traders fear the new Morrisons could hurt business in the town centre but the application claims some of the store’s shoppers will also visit town-centre shops in “linked trips”.
The Co-op has submitted a planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council for a £1.5m convenience store on the site of the former Waitrose store in St Martin’s Street but says it could withdraw the plan if Morrisons gets the go-ahead.
Development executive for Morrisons Andrew Birtwistle said there would be an estimated annual boost of about £6.7m a year.
He said: “The current proposals include a number of bus route enhancements, between the town centre and the Morrisons store.
“This will create improved bus linkage with Wallingford town centre, allowing linked shopping trips and improving the connectivity between the store and the town centre.”
An economic assessment attached to the application adds: “The proposed store is likely to help Wallingford to retain a greater proportion of retail spend than it does curently.”
Town councillor Lynda Atkins said there was “no reason” to disbelieve the figures presented by Morrisons.
She added: “If this store doesn’t go ahead it will be a massive missed opportunity for Wallingford, particularly for those people who drive out to Didcot to do their shopping in Tesco or Sainsbury’s because they can’t afford to shop all the time at Waitrose in Wallingford.
“Some traders in the town centre do have concerns that Morrisons will harm their trade, but I think there is more prospect of them doing well out of this than they think is the case.
“If there are 300 people earning wages as a result of the Morrisons store then that is bound to improve the economic prospects of the town as a whole.
“They will spend some of their wages in Morrisons but some of their money will also flow into other businesses in the town.
“Staff will rent properties in the area and they might need to buy furniture for those homes.
“I would like to see this application dealt with as soon as possible – in January or February.”
Wallingford in Business spokesman Elaine Hornsby said: “Morrisons can come up with all the figures they like.
“But I don’t believe people will shop first at Morrisons and then move onto the town centre to shop in other stores, and other traders share my concerns.
“If Morrisons had tried to come into the town centre we would have welcomed them with open arms.”
Planners want comments by Wednesday, December 12.