PROPOSALS to build a major supermarket near the centre of one of Doncaster’s biggest towns look set to go ahead after councillors backed the scheme.
Developers now only need a small section of the land to be approved by Rotherham Council before they can put forward their final detailed plans for the scheme at Station Road, Mexborough, near the railway station.
Councillors agreed to back outline planning permission for the scheme in a five to three split vote, despite residents and small business owners urging them to reject the controversial proposals during a heated meeting.
A Kier Properties spokesman said after the meeting they now plan to go through the detailed planning process, although the scheme needed to be ratified by Rotherham.
They will then be looking to bring in one of the big four supermarket operators to run the site.
Councillors agreed to back the scheme after hearing most people in Mexborough go out of the town to Wath, Doncaster or Rotherham to do their main food shopping.
Planning agent Jeremy Williams, for Kier, said the store will create 250 jobs when it is opened, as well as jobs in its construction.
He told councillors the scheme will also regenerate the area around the station and, as part of the planning deal, the developer would improve access to the town centre from Station Road and would look at other improvements to the town centre environment.
Mr Williams said: “The jobs will provide a real boost to the economy during and after construction and will improve an unattractive and derelict site.
“The shop will be set back from the station, creating a public realm area. It will create a safer and more secure areas for station users. It will act as a catalyst for other developers.”
But the decision has angered campaigners who had set up the Save the High Street (Mexborough) Campaign in opposition to the plans.
Campaign group chairman Bill Lawrence said: “The councillors had it within their power to support the people of Mexborough and again we have been let down by those we would expect to support us.
“But we will fight on to try to rebuild our town and community with or within the help of Doncaster Council.”
Mr Lawrence said he feared the store would ‘devastate’ Mexborough town centre.
He said the group would now approach Rotherham Council to see if they could stop the scheme by persuading councillors to oppose the plan.
His campaign group claims the site will remove more jobs from Mexborough than it creates, and say a report from the National Retail Planning Forum backs up their argument.
Doncaster Council figures showed 48 people had contacted officers in support of the scheme, while 28 people had written to object to it.
Committee member Coun Susan Bolton said she thought it was clear people did not do their main shopping in Mexborough, with people seen on the train from town carrying Sainsbury’s bags.
But Coun John Sheppard raised concerns much of the money would leave the area if a major supermarket set up on the site - going to large corporations instead of local businesses within the community.