SUPERMARKET giant Tesco has lodged fresh plans to expand its Abingdon store and has promised to support town centre traders.

The company sparked a storm of protest from local businesses after unveiling moves to expand the non-food side of its shop in Marcham Road. Vale of White Horse District Council threw out the plans two months ago, claiming it went against the town's Local Plan.

However, Tesco has returned with a new plan, which includes a series of measures aimed at winning over the council and chamber. The company has put together a package which proposes to pay for a town centre manager and provide a shuttle bus service to the town and back.

But the Chamber of Commerce, which has mounted a campaign to protect town centre businesses, is not yet convinced, and said it wanted to know how long any measures would be in place. Jill Carver, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said: "We need to know for how long they will support a town manager and the bus service. We will be talking with our members to see what they have to say and if the proposals will have an impact on their concerns about the shopping vitality of the town centre."

In its resubmitted planning application, the supermarket has promised to provide a package of measures, including: Funding the appointment of town centre manager for Abingdon Funding a regular weekday shuttle bus service between the store and town centre Displaying promotional material about town centre shops and activities in the store Make a financial contribution towards improving Marcham Road Committing the Tesco store manager (Bill Pillbeam) to be represented on the Chamber of Commerce.

No one from Tesco was available for comment by the time the Herald went to press. But the firm has said the current store is congested.

It plans to demolish the garden centre to make way for an additional 180 parking spaces. About 50 extra jobs would be created as part of the scheme.

Two reports from different consultants concluded an expanded store would not have a significant impact on town centre trade.

But Vale district councillors disagreed, and said increased parking would encourage more traffic, even though the county highways department raised no concerns. Councillors went against the advice of planning officers, who recommended approval of Tesco's plans. The officers warned that if the company went to appeal and won, the council stood the risk of being exposed to "considerable costs".

Vale planning officer, Martin Deans, said more work needed to be done on the plans, and they would not be discussed by councillors until later in the year.

Mr Deans said if Tesco's proposals were a genuine attempt to address concerns, they would need to be in place for several years to make it worthwhile.

Councillors have concerns about flooding, even though the Environment Agency is happy with planned flood mitigation measures.

Councillor Peter Fulk said: "I'm still not persuaded to support Tesco even with these new proposals. Town centre shops would be at risk. If we agree to a bigger Tesco, we would be booed off the shopping precinct."