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Mayor backing Morrisons bid
WITNEY Mayor Harry Eaglestone has welcomed plans to build a new Morrisons store in the town centre.
He said: “It is good news because Morrisons has always been very competitive with its prices. “When you read about shops that are empty in other towns and high streets, it just shows that Witney is doing very well in comparison.”
The supermarket giant will create a ‘local’ shop in two units at a five-unit development in Welch Way, opposite Marriotts Walk Shopping Centre.
Morrisons joins coffee shop Costa, toy store The Entertainer and an as-yet-unnamed store in the units, which developer Realis Estates hopes to complete by Easter.
The Morrisons M store will open in June and sell fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and bakery, as well as other groceries.
Business leaders agreed with the mayor that Witney is bucking the national trend of declining high streets.
Chamber of Commerce chairman Lesley Semaine said: “A big name coming to Witney shows we are still expanding and the town is becoming more popular.
“I think there are far more reasons to come to Witney now than Oxford and Swindon.”
But she questioned the need for a shop similar to those already in Witney and the lack of independent retailers opening in the new development.
She added: “I hope as well as the big names coming to Witney we get a few more independents so we can have a balance. That is very important to keep the town thriving as it is.”
Morrisons will take a 3,250 sq ft double unit, larger than those taken by The Entertainer (2,400 sq ft) and Costa (1,250 sq ft).
The company will not require planning permission to change the use.
Realis Estates said it was in discussions with “several popular high street brands” interested in the remaining 1,305 sq ft unit.
Managing director Duncan Mathieson said: “To have secured tenants for four out of the five units before the scheme is completed is a fantastic achievement.
“The range of operators in this development makes it an important addition to the town and greatly improves the link between High Street and Marriotts Close.”
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