NATIONAL restaurant chain Nando’s could soon open a new branch at Witney’s Marriotts Walk shopping centre.

The Portuguese-themed chicken restaurant is negotiating with the centre's landlords over a shop which has been empty since the centre opened in 2009.

Local traders are concerned about the balance between national and independent businesses.

Sue Carter, of Witney Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is great that these companies want to invest here, and they must see it as a prime location, but it is no good making Witney the same as all the other towns.

“Many of the independent cafés and restaurants are concerned about the takeover of the nationals in the town and we need to retain a balance.”

Matthew Coates, who is dealing with the lease for letting agents Jackson Criss, said: “We are in negotiations with Nando's. “They are currently in the process of inspecting the unit."

Unit six was originally earmarked for Starbucks, but the coffee chain decided not to open.

Pizza Express then came forward but later pulled out because the firm’s landlords were unable to accommodate their requirements.

Several national chains are investing in Witney, with supermarket chain Morrisons, coffee shop Costa and toy store The Entertainer set to move into a five-shop development in Welch Way.

Meanwhile, Halfords will be opening an auto centre in Bridge Street next week.

Mayor of Witney Harry Eaglestone said: “There are too many restaurants and we are getting overwhelmed with them, but it is good to see national chains invest in the town.”

Marriotts Walk manager Lynne Shawyer and Nando’s have declined to comment.