Bosses at a Cornish shopping complex have not ruled out the possibility of a major supermarket chain running its planned new food retail space.
The news was revealed at a meeting of Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee, when the expansion of Kingsley Village at Fraddon was approved following a lengthy debate.
The decision has angered St Columb Major Town Council, which argued that any expansion of Kingsley Village would be to the detriment of a planned supermarket in St Columb – which has still not been built nor attracted any buyer.
Kingsley Village's owners were successful in gaining planning permission to re-work the current layout. It means they will be able to:
Form a new foodstore on the western end of the site.
Change the use of the basement from a conference centre to storage.
Change the use of the existing food hall to non-food retail.
Change the use of a separate warehouse to a conference centre.
Change the use of a greenfield site to a car park.
Concerns were raised that under the new permission there was no obligation for Kingsley Village to sell Cornish goods – one of the requirements of gaining European funding to build the complex.
Councillors argued that this could result in a supermarket operating the food store and selling whatever it chose.
When quizzed by committee members, John Marshall, on behalf of Kingsley Village, said that a supermarket operator "may" be interested in the future but that there was no agreement in place yet.
"It may be that we continue to operate the food hall in the same way that we have done for the last six years," he added.
"Or it may be that a supermarket comes in as an operator but there has been nothing agreed or in place yet."
Councillor David Swindells, a former mayor of St Columb Major, spoke out at the meeting, criticising the plans and the lack of communication with his authority over Kingsley's expansion.
He felt that Kingsley Village expansion would set back the St Columb supermarket further.
"A food store is essential for the development of St Columb," he said. "The economic viability of St Columb would be adversely affected if Kingsley Village was allowed to expand."
Kingsley's expansion plans, however, were backed by St Enoder Parish Council.
Councillor Jackie Baker told the committee that the complex was "extremely important" to the local economy, providing dozens of jobs.
Ward Councillor Dick Cole also revealed that Kingsley's owners are in discussions with the owners of four neighbouring properties – Penhale Cottages – to purchase the buildings which would be most adversely impacted by the expansion.