A CONTROVERSIAL out of town shopping development could be thrown out by Worcester City Council after planning chiefs recommended councillors turn down planning permission.
The vast 396,175sq ft Worcester Woods site south of Newtown Road has been in the pipeline for the past two years.
And ahead of a meeting of the authority’s planning committee next Wednesday (June 22), council officials have recommended the proposals be rejected.
Retail giants such as John Lewis, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Next have all agreed to open up stores on the out-of-town retail park if it is given the green light.
However, many city centre businesses have hit out at the development, with claims it could ‘hollow out’ the centre and could cost it £50 million as shoppers turn away from the heart of the city and turn towards the Worcester Woods development.
Speaking after the proposals were first put to the public, Laura Tenison, founder of JoJo Maman Bebe, previously told the Observer she could be forced to close her CrownGate store if councillors backed the Worcester Woods development.
In an impassioned plea to planning chiefs, she said: “If you let this out of town shopping centre go ahead you will look very silly in a few years to come, but in the short term you will totally kill off the city centre – leaving an already pretty depressed high street to get worse and worse.
“An out of town development is commercial suicide for all of us and it is likely that we will have to pull out of Worcester in the future,” she added.
But Land Securities, who own the site, said they believe the retail park can exist side-by-side with shops in the city centre.
“This will complement the existing retail choice in Worcester and mean local shoppers no longer need to travel elsewhere to meet their needs,” they said.