BOSSES at Templars Retail Park in Cowley are bidding to massively expand plans for a supermarket.

They are seeking permission for a 2,500sqm superstore, more than half the size of the current Sainsbury’s at nearby Heyford Hill.

And they have revealed that plans to charge shoppers to park there have been abandoned.

The new plans come after permission was given last year for a 1,500sqm supermarket and to divide the building currently occupied by B&Q into four units. Previous restrictions which forbade the selling of the food were also dropped.

Jonathan Best, planning consultant for the scheme, said B&Q had indicated it would move out if its unit was split up.

Some businesses in Templars Square Shopping Centre, opposite the park, objected to the plans.

A statement from 99p Stores said independent food stores would be “badly affected”.

It said: “The car park is already over-saturated at peak times; a new supermarket would increase the number of cars and make things worse.”

When it opened in the 1980s, the park covered 13,032sqm with 496 parking spaces. This has now increased to 19,205sqm with 468 spaces, due to layout changes.

Cowley Express foodstore owner Yohannes Selassie said: “Small businesses would be affected. We have a nice mix of shops that provide a good shopping experience. We might not be able to survive.”

The centre has a Co-op and Iceland but lost Sainsbury’s and Somerfield stores.

Imran Ali, who runs Imy’s Stop’n’Shop said: “It is worrying, but, on the plus side, it does need it around here. We need more people.”

Managers at Templars Square declined to comment on the plans.

Sainsbury’s is currently building extensions at its Heyford Hill store to provide 6,003sqm of sales floor space – up from its current 4,661sqm.

Meanwhile, plans to end free parking at the retail park have been scrapped. Number plate recognition cameras will instead catch people who stay longer than two hours.

Oxford City Council planning officer Lisa Green said highways chiefs did not object to the supermarket plan and she recommended councillors to support it.

A spokesman for Resolution Property, which owns the park, said: “Our planning application is intended to improve Templars Shopping Park and create future options for retailing, as part of an ongoing management strategy to ensure the future vitality of the park and the surrounding area.”

He said there were no immediate plans to change the “retail line-up”.

He added: “We have not concluded a letting to a food retailer so it is too early to say who this might be.”

A spokesman for B&Q said: “This decision does not impact the store in the imminent future and, in the meantime, we would like to reassure both our employees and customers that we are working hard on a solution.”

The plan will be discussed by the city council’s east area planning committee in Oxford Town Hall at 5pm tomorrow.

A formal planning application has yet to be submitted.

We reported last month on plans for three new cafes, four starter homes and a landscaped park at the site. It comes after a £2.2m Asda Living department store opened in May.

View the plans at templars An exhibition will be held from 1-8pm on Thursday in the empty unit next to Brantano and Asda Living.