Wells Morrisons and Sainsbury's planning inquiry begins

Clares Equipment site, Wells
Image caption Morrisons wants to build a supermarket on the former Clares Equipment site

A decision to reject plans for two new supermarkets in Wells will be considered at a planning inquiry later.

Morrisons and Sainsbury's both appealed after having plans for new stores on the outskirts of the city thrown out.

About £100,000 has been spent on legal advice by Mendip District Council ahead of the inquiry which will last 10 days.

A report for the Conservative-run council warned that the impact of the new stores could result in a £5m-a-year loss in trade for the city centre.

Sainsbury's wants to build a store on the Tincknell Fuel site on Gloucester Road and Morrisons wants a supermarket on the former Clares Equipment site.

Supermarket power

Mark Thompson, from Morrisons, said: "The appeal will explore the arguments in more detail so it's a good chance to test how our proposals measure up against planning policy as well as rival schemes."

A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said: "Along with many others in the community we hope local opinion is given serious consideration during the appeal."

Robert Powell, who runs Basil Powell's shoe shop in Wells, will be speaking at the inquiry on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce.

He said: "We all understand that being a small trader in any town is very difficult at the moment and we need protection from the power of supermarkets.

"I feel that Mendip District Council has followed legislation to protect historic cities - Wells is the jewel of Somerset."

The city already has a Tesco, Co-Op and Lidl store. Waitrose is yet to build a store after being granted permission last year.

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