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WAITROSE is coming to Worcester - after a massive new £20 million store off London Road was given the green light.

The supermarket giant has secured planning permission to finally bring its first ever outlet to the city, creating 240 jobs.

It means all the 'big four' supermarket players will now have a presence in Worcester, with Waitrose set to take-up a huge 40,000 sq ft store at the old Ebenezer Baylis print works.

That will make it nearly double the size of the 25,000 sq ft Malvern Waitrose.

It was voted through unanimously by Worcester City Council's planning committee yesterday, with the chairman Cllr Geoff Williams calling it a "major investment".

It was backed after lengthy debates over traffic congestion in London Road.

During the meeting Bob Pender, from the county council's highways department, said two extensive surveys had been done over the impact on roads.

He said it would mean drivers heading down London Road into the city are delayed by an extra 19 seconds, and for those going up it towards the Oak Apple it would be 27 seconds.

"All the research nationally shows food stores generate 10 per cent of 'new traffic' on a route," he said.

"The rest comes from existing passers-by, like people dropping off the kids at school, or those who take a diversion, for example people who would otherwise use another supermarket.

"There will be an impact on the roads but it will be limited - this is not a gridlock situation by any means."

During the debate Cllr Richard Boorn, who represents the area, said congestion in London Road "is not acceptable now" and claimed residents are being "treated with utter contempt".

Cllr Steve Mackay said if there was "any lingering doubt" the committee should think again but others, like Tory David Wilkinson, said there was "no reason" to refuse it.

"I think a lot of the problems with traffic are created at Sidbury, rather than anything higher up the road," he said.

Cllr Williams, as chairman, hailed it as "great news" for the city.

"This is a major retailer prepared to make a major investment in Worcester, it's great news," he said.

A total of 49 objections had been submitted, including one from Asda and another from The Spetchley Estate, which wants to create a new retail park off Newtown Road featuring a John Lewis.

A statement from Waitrose said it had looked at other options but discounted all of them, including the Trinity House building opposite Lowesmoor, citing London Road as the ideal location.

The store will feature a range of John Lewis goods, a coffee shop with outside seating and 285 parking spaces.

The plans include fish, cheese, meat and patisserie counters, and 40 jobs will be created during a mammoth construction process alone.

The store is now set to open in the autumn of 2015, subject to an agreement which will see it hand over up to £257,000 for road improvements such as a massive cycle lane.

It will join Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's in Worcester's supermarket wars.

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