A WORCESTER councillor has criticised proposals for a big £150 million out-of-town shopping park - calling it "lunacy".

Councillor Simon Cronin, a Labour politician and publican, says he "does not believe" the city centre can withstand the impact of a big retail plaza off Newtown Road.

As your Worcester News first revealed last year, developer Land Securities wants to build a shopping centre led by John Lewis.

The planning application is due to be decided by April and features 13 units and 1,044 parking spaces on fields known as Worcester Woods.

Next, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's have also signed up so far, with Land Securities saying it will create 551 full-time jobs.

Cllr Cronin said: "We keep on getting assurances this will not harm the city centre but I just don't believe it.

"To me, opening more stores right on the edge of Worcester is just lunacy - I am getting more and more anxious about this and my concern is growing.

"I know Marks & Spencer say they will trade from two stores in the city but you've only got to look at what's going on with Tesco - all these retailers are subject to the economy and it can go up or down.

"If things get worse and they look to close stores in the future they aren't going to get rid of a brand new one are they - my ultimate fear is that we end up with one of the city's best retail units empty.

"You don't send a model down the catwalk with two front teeth missing.

"We are meant to be trying to attract development in the city centre."

Two weeks ago we revealed how Worcester Business Improvement District (BID), which represents city centre traders, Warndon Parish Council, the Open Space Society and around 20 residents have penned written objections.

The developer has insisted its plans would not harm the city centre, but instead attract shoppers in from outside Worcester currently going to places like Cheltenham and Birmingham.

The firm says its plan will attract up to £50 million of new investment from retailers, and claw back an estimated £113 million in 'lost' trade to rival destinations in the region.

Nick Duffield, portfolio director for Land Securities said: "The proposed development will compete primarily with other retail parks rather than the city centre.

"There will be no material impact on the turnover of the city centre, which will continue to grow alongside the proposed development."