Chippenham Vision chief resigns over supermarket row

The chairman of a town improvement scheme in Wiltshire has resigned after Sainsbury's was permitted to expand its superstore there.

The supermarket was granted permission to double the size of its non-food area at its Chippenham Bath Road store.

Wiltshire Council also agreed to allow it to add 700 free parking spaces.

Chippenham Vision chairman John Clark said the council's decision was "appalling" and said the move would badly affect town centre trade.

He said he felt so strongly about the issue and wanted to be "publicly criticial" of the decision that he would only have that freedom if he resigned.

"Town centres must be protected if they're not to die," he said.

Groups' opposition

Mr Clark says the store's expansion, which will increase non-food floorspace to more than 2600 sq m (27,986 sq ft), will put Sainsbury's in direct competition with a number of town centre shops.

The Chippenham Chamber of Commerce, the Civic Society, the town council, the Community Area Partnership and the local economic partnership have also opposed the plan.

A Sainsbury's spokesperson said: "We have been in consultation for 18 months and the feedback we received helped to shape our plans for Chippenham.

"Elected councillors on the planning committee discussed the proposals at length and ultimately resolved to grant planning permission, in line with the recommendation received from Wiltshire Council's planning officer."

Wiltshire Council did not respond to requests for a comment.

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