SHERBORNE Girls’ School has joined the campaign against Tesco’s plans to build a store in the town.
After a meeting with representatives from the retail giant, a school spokeswoman said: “The addition of another large store could cause irreversible damage to existing businesses and undermine the very fabric of the town.
“Sherborne and education are inextricably linked and the proposal has been discussed at length.
“Many of the historically important school buildings are within close proximity to the proposed site and the increase in traffic to the area around Bradford Road and Horsecastles Lane could be detrimental to the many students who walk between their houses and school each day.
“The proposal may also lead to increased traffic between the main entrance to Sherborne Girls and the Oxley Sports Centre as shoppers try to avoid the A30.”
Meanwhile, Tesco opponents turned out en masse on Tuesday to take a stand ahead of the public consultation.
Members of an anti-Tesco action group and independent business owners gathered in Cheap Street, urging residents to join their campaign.
The now renamed Keep Sherborne Viable group resolved to oppose any form of development by the supermarket in the town.
The action group is formed from organisations including No Thanks Tesco, the Sherborne Chamber of Trade and Commerce, and the Sherborne and District Society CPRE.
Mayor Peter Rhodes: “I think it’s important for residents to attend the consultation with an open mind. The town council will offer an opinion once it has considered the plans.”
A spokeswoman for Tesco said: “We really hope that people will take this opportunity to respond to the plans.
“If anyone is unable to attend the consultation meetings, they are welcome to e-mail or write to us with their thoughts and they will be considered.”
Earmarked for land at the Sherborne Hotel, on the A30, it is claimed the new store will measure around 28,000sq ft.
Anti-Tesco petitions have received more than 8,000 signatures.
But resident Gavin Hart, 35, supports the proposals.
He said: “I think another store would grow the economy of the town. The jobs it creates could take young people off the streets.”
Mr Hart said he spends around £16 a week on public transport to and from Yeovil to do his weekly shop and would prefer to shop locally. He said: “I’d like to get in touch with others who are in support of Tesco in Sherborne.”
A Bring Tesco to Sherborne online petition has reached 100 signatures.
A public display of the plans opens tomorrow, between 3pm and 7pm, and on Saturday, between 10am and 3pm, both at the West End Hall, Littlefield. A third consultation is on Tuesday, February 26, between 2.30pm and 7.30pm, at the Digby Hall, Hound Street.