PLANS for a new Marks and Spencer Foodhall have been approved by West Oxfordshire District Council.

The application, which also includes well-known brand Costa Coffee and two other shops was approved by the council for the old Parker Knoll site in London Road, Chipping Norton.

More than 100 people made their feelings clear to the council on their website, with most in favour of the £6million plan, which is set to create between 60 and 70 fulltime jobs.

In addition, many of the comments from objectors including Chipping Norton Town Council, were about the "ugly" first artist's impression of the building which the applicant, Simons Group, took into account before amending their final design.

Philip Hodgkinson, deputy chairman of Simons Group, said:“We are delighted with the planning committee’s decision to grant consent to our proposals for an M&S Foodhall to Chipping Norton.

“This development, which includes three other shops, represents a £6 million investment into the town, and will create between 60 and 70 new full and part-time jobs for local people, as well as providing shoppers with greater local retail choice.

"Significantly, the proposals will also breathe new life into the former Parker Knoll factory site, which has been left disused for many years.

“Throughout planning, our proposals attracted a great deal of public support and I would like to thank everyone who backed the plans so enthusiastically.

“We hope to make a start on site in the new year and, as soon as we have a clearer idea of the building programme, we will be in touch again with the local community.”

The headteacher of local Holy Trinity Catholic School, Lorna Buchanan said: "We have discussed this with staff and governors and they would like to put in writing that we support this project.

"It will be a great asset to this side of Chipping Norton as at present it is an eyesore and we feel it would be beneficial to Chipping Norton to have an upmarket store.

"We understand that there may be some disruption if their proposal goes ahead and that there will be an increase in traffic, but we know that the traffic at school opening and closing times will be from our parents."

Marks and Spencer adds to the food amenities in Chipping Norton to the Co-Op, Sainsbury's and Aldi.

Richard Holmes, acting for the Co-Op, had previously said: "The Co-Op is not anti-competitive. It does object to retail development on out-of-centre sites but not to retail proposals in town centres.

"The proposal would have a significant adverse impact on the town centre, both on its own and when taken together with the recent out-of-centre developments."

Mountain Warehouse and Pets Corner have also signed up for the site.

Whilst a decision notice is yet to be issued, this is to allow small legal parts of the application to be tied up and it is not expected to cause any delays.