Plans for a new Waitrose store in Banbury have received overwhelming support from town residents.
More than 1,000 people have recorded their feedback via post, online and during a public exhibition at Banbury Town Hall – which was attended by more than 300 people – in response to plans brought forward by Barwood Capital and Mondelēz International for a new store on Southam Road.
Of the 1,096 comments currently received, 84 per cent were in support of the plans, 15 per cent raised objections and just one per cent remained neutral.
Residents can still register their comments online at www.waitrosebanbury.co.uk.
The proposed store, which would create 200 jobs, would be built on an area of surplus land in front of the Mondelēz International site.
Funds released from the sale of the site would allow Mondelēz to invest in improvements to the Banbury factory, including upgrading staff facilities and offices.
Waitrose development surveyor Martin Gorman said: “While there is a long way to go, it’s incredibly encouraging that the majority of local people we have heard from share our excitement about the potential of Waitrose coming to Banbury.
“We are grateful to everyone who provided feedback and will now analyse comments in more detail.
“Waitrose has explored a number of opportunities over the years to open in Banbury, including those in the town centre.
“The proposal brought forward by Barwood and Mondelēz is the only available and viable option for Waitrose to come to the town and we would welcome the chance to add the growing investment that it continues to attract.
“By replacing surplus space with a quality food store we can deliver new jobs, more retail choice and improved facilities for Mondelēz.”
All new employees at the store would become partners in the John Lewis Partnership, entitling them to a number of benefits including a share in profits.
Mondelēz International site director Paul Sinclair said: “Mondelēz International is proud to be one of the largest employers in Banbury, with 700 people expected to be employed on our site by the end of 2015.
“The sale of our surplus land will make our operation more competitive. It will generate funds to invest in updating and enhancing our staff facilities and offices. “These investments will improve the working environment for everyone employed here.”
Feedback will now be fully analysed before Barwood Capital and Mondelēz submit a planning application in the coming weeks.
If successful, it is hoped work will start on site in late 2015/early 2016 ready for the new store to open in early 2017.