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MORRISONS have finalised plans to open a store in Wallingford, quashing fears it may pull out because of council demands.

The firm has signed a council section 106 agreement – which it had said was “challenging” – covering cash contributions to the town.

It won permission last July for a 30,000sqft store on the Hithercroft estate, creating 300 jobs.

Yet South Oxfordshire District Council said it must pay £750,000 over five years to fund a bus route linking the industrial estate to the town centre. And it demanded tough green standards so it had an “excellent” Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating.

Development executive Andrew Birtwistle said the demands were “challenging” and residents and town Mayor Bernard Stone raised concerns plans would be abandoned.

But Morrisons spokesman Alexander Hall said: “The section 106 agreement has now been concluded and signed with the council and we are currently awaiting receipt of the planning consent.

“There are still a number of steps to complete in this process and we thank shoppers for their patience.”

He could not give a start date.

Council leader Ann Ducker said: “Hopefully the agreement will benefit the town as a whole.

“Once permission has been all signed off we want them to get on with the project as soon as possible because it has been quite a while now that there has been a lot of uncertainty. It takes that uncertainty away and I expect Morrisons will now progress the scheme.”

She hopes it will be open next year.

Mayor Stone said: “People living in the town were enthusiastic to see Morrisons here and when things are delayed there is inevitable a big concern.

“People were worried they might change their strategy.”

Castle Street resident Ros Lester said: “A lot of people have been asking about what is happening with that.

“I want it, a lot of the councillors want it, and most of Wallingford wants it, so we will be pleased when it starts.

“We have been waiting and waiting and waiting.”