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Planning battle hots up over Aukett supermarket scheme

Local campaigners have demanded the government call in Michael Aukett Architects' designs for a vast new Waitrose supermarket planned for Wallingford in Oxfordshire.

The Save Wallingford Action Group (SWAG) insists that the 25,000m2 project - which won planning last week but has since become subject to a holding directive - is 'hugely out of scale' with the fabric of the ninth-century market town.

SWAG chairman Richard Neale said he was concerned that the proposal was a 'Trojan horse' that will allow other major schemes to get the green light. And he attacked Waitrose's transport and infrastructure studies for the project, saying they misled the local population about the superstore's impact on traffic and parking.

Neale also accused the local authority, South Oxfordshire District Council, of weakness. 'The planning committee seems weary and ready to accept a scheme even they see as flawed, ' he said.

CABE and English Heritage have also criticised the scheme. EH said the project 'lacks engagement with the town' and attacked its 'bland south-facing elevation', while CABE said the design 'lacks integrity'.

However, Aukett project architect Matt Benting told the AJ that the 'vast majority of locals' supported the scheme and want to have a large local supermarket. He said the council had done nothing wrong. 'The planning committee voted seven-two in favour, ' Benting said. 'They recognise it is a good project that will be good for the town.'

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