WALLINGFORD'S former Waitrose store in St Martin's Street could become a covered market if plans by the town council and the Civic Trust become a reality.

The idea is put forward as part of a major development for Wallingford town centre to boost trade.

Town planning consultant Nigel Moor, who will become mayor in May, has pledged his year in office to push the plan forward.

He asked residents to let him have their views by the end of this month.

Wallingford Business Partnership's new chairman, Elaine Hornsby, said: "We are glad to do anything we can to boost Wallingford. The Partnership has not had its first formal meeting since the annual meeting, so we cannot say which option we prefer. But I can say that we will help all we can."

One stumbling block is the Regal Centre, which is owned by the town council.

One option would be to use it as a sports and social centre, with a cafe and outside seating. An alternative would be to demolish it and rebuild elsewhere, although no new site has been suggested.

The plans centre on the former Waitrose building in St Martin's Street.

When the new Waitrose opened in the centre of the town last year, it left a void in St Martin's Street and hit trade in that area.

The suggestion is that it could take on a new life as an indoor market, with other stalls outside.

A spokesman for Waitrose said the idea was interesting, but nothing had been decided.

She said: "Waitrose continues to work with the Co-op, which owns the freehold of the building, to find a suitable new occupier. However, there is no further news on this subject at the moment."

The building is owned by the Co-op Property Group, based at Manchester.

Mr Moor, who is also a cabinet member on South Oxfordshire District Council, said: "It is absolutely vital that we start talks with the Co-op and show people our plans.

"We hope the Co-op will appreciate our vision for the regeneration of that whole area and come on board with us.

"As mayor from May, I hope the mayor's position will help bind together organisations and ideas.

"We have a good town centre working party, which has now been joined by John Cotton, district council cabinet member for planning. That will help us get this comprehensive development properly considered.

"Waitrose is a major funder of the Civic Trust and we have their co-operation in this plan.

"I am convinced this plan will boost Wallingford and I will do everything I can to make it work."

Mayor Lynda Atkins said: "We have every hope that this plan will boost the town and I am certain Mr Moor will make it work."

A spokesman for the Co-op Property Group said the town council's ideas would be considered when they were presented.