MAJOR plans to redevelop Didcot’s Orchard Shopping Centre were approved last night.

The £50m scheme will see new shops, restaurants and a gym go into the centre in eastern Didcot, along with landscaping, new public toilets and a “new public realm”.

The full plans by developer Hammerson went before South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee last night, and councillors voted to approve the whole scheme.

Phase one of the centre was built in 2005 and now Hammerson has permission to create the long-awaited second phase, bringing three new public spaces, 24 new shops including an M&S food store, and six restaurants, bringing 500 new jobs.

Earlier this month 500 residents were surveyed by a market research company and South Oxfordshire District Council said 88 per cent of people supported the plans to extend the centre.