INDEPENDENT traders have joined forces to form an action group after a supermarket revealed plans to open a new store in a Hampshire town.

Sainsbury’s wants to build a superstore covering 30,000 square feet with approximately 250 staff on the Abbey Mill site in Bishop’s Waltham.

Angry shop owners fear it will kill off the high street and have launched the Bishop’s Waltham Action Group Against Sainsbury’s to stop the store opening.

The group has collected more than 800 signatures of support and are planning to lobby the parish council at their annual meeting next Tuesday.

Fishmonger Peter Atkinson, said: “This is a wake-up call to Bishop’s Waltham Parish Council as there seems to be a few of them who want this to go ahead without thinking about the consequences for the town.

“I would like as many residents as possible to write and lobby the council demanding a full public meeting to discuss the plans for Sainsbury’s in full.”

Local butcher Andrew Grover said the new store would be a “slow death” for the village.

He said: “Traders here don’t want Sainsbury’s to open as they are worried about their future. If one shop closes it will have an adverse effect on everybody else as we all complement each other.”

A public consultation and a possible exhibition from Sainsbury’s is expected shortly.

Sainsbury’s regional development executive Max Whitehand said: “We are keen to open a new store in Bishop’s Waltham as many local people currently undertake their main food shopping at supermarkets outside of the area.

“A new supermarket in Bishop’s Waltham could help stem this leakage of trade and help keep shoppers in the local area.

“Supermarkets tend to compete with other supermarkets and we would expect to complement good local independent traders rather than competing with them.”

No planning application has yet been made but the parish council confirmed the supermarket bought the land in December.

● To join the Bishop’s Waltham Action Group Against Sainsbury’s contact Peter Atkinson on 01489 896111.