AFTER more than two years of wrangling, the controversy surrounding plans for a supermarket and petrol station in Shipston may finally be coming to a conclusion.
A public inquiry that started last October resumed on Tuesday at Ettington Community Centre, Rogers Lane, Ettington.
Ainscough Strategic Land (ASL) is fighting the refusal of plans to build a supermarket, petrol station, Extra Care’ Retirement Home comprising up to 80 cottages and 50 apartments and up to 54 houses on land north of Campden Road.
Stratford District Council threw out the plans on January 28 last year and is defending the appeal on impact of retail store on the viability and vitality of Shipston Town Centre and the impact on the landscape.
A cross-section of residents from the town have been giving evidence for and against the plans at the eight-day appeal which is expected to finish earlier than planned.
The supermarket and petrol station has been a talking point in the town for many months with many in support as well in opposition.
Two years ago, campaign group SNAS (Shipston Needs a Supermarket and Petrol Station) was formed to directly oppose Shipston’s Heart Alive! Campaign (SHA!C) which launched to keep Shipston’s town centre thriving.
Councillor Jeff Kenner, Shipston ward council at Stratford District Council and supporter of SNAS, said: "With 75 per cent of household shopping trips now being made outside of Shipston, local people want to be able to do their regular shop locally, not in Stratford, and support shops in the town centre.
"It is the continuation of the status quo that will harm Shipston town centre not the proposed supermarket, which will bring people back to Shipston to do their shopping."
However, Trev Trevethick, chairman of SHA!C, said if an out of town supermarket was approved, it would have a big impact on the town centre.
"Footfall in the town centre will go down and if footfall goes down the existing individual traders will suffer tremendously," he said. They've only got to see a reduction of seven per cent and they are going to be in serious trouble.
"We can't say whether or not we're confident of the outcome, we will be following it very closely and seeing what the arguments are."
Mayor Philip Vial said town councillor Paul Rathkey would be speaking against the application on behalf of the town council.
"The council is committed to opposing this planning application," he said. "We fell the supermarket would destroy the town centre because of it out of town nature. We are hopeful the inspector will agree with us."