PLANS by Tesco to bring a superstore to Sherborne were blasted by the leader of West Dorset District Council on Monday.
Addressing members of Sherborne Town Council Robert Gould, also a county councillor for the Queen Thorne ward, claimed the proposals would be “rigorously opposed”.
He said: “Tesco is a burning issue.
“Many are clearly against the plans and, personally, I will do anything possible to make sure this is the case.”
He added the district council had not been formally approached by Tesco to discuss the plans as yet.
He was supported by Marjorie Snowden, district councillor for Sherborne West ward, who said the current local plan and the national planning policy framework do not support out-of-town retail development.
Meanwhile, organisations met to form Sherborne’s first Defensive Planning Group.
Members of the Sherborne Chamber of Trade and Commerce, the No Thanks Tesco campaign group and the Sherborne and District Society of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, were among those to attend.
After the meeting, chamber chairman Sally-Ann Kodurand said 85 per cent of its members have opposed the plans while 15 per cent were pro-Tesco or undecided.
She said: “Our prime concern is the future vitality of Sherborne and we have an obligation to protect the economic interests of members.”
“A supermarket on that site could have wider implications and could create massive problems for the town’s infrastructure.”
The group, along with other interested parties such as residents of Bradford Road and Sherborne Girls’ School, will meet Tesco on January 31.
Thousands have signed online and paper petitions.
A spokesman for No Thanks Tesco said they hoped to secure 10,000 signatures before a public consultation begins next month and criticised Tesco canvassers for “door stepping” residents this week.
But some people are in support of the plans.
Resident Adrian Dyer, 57, said: “We need the jobs it will bring and most working class people do their main shop in Yeovil.
“It will save on fuel and time.”
Melanie Chiswell, corporate affairs manager for Tesco, said: “We are committed to carrying out a thorough public consultation on our proposals and are keen to speak to as many people as possible.
“We are looking forward to the public exhibition and meeting local people so that we can learn more about the views of the wider community.”
The consultation takes place on Friday, February 15, between 3pm and 7pm, and Saturday, February 16, between 10am and 3pm at the West End Hall, Littlefield.
A third date is yet to be confirmed for the Digby Hall, Hound Street.