SUPERMARKET giant Tesco has revealed plans to open a store in Sherborne.
The supermarket has signed an agreement with Torbeg Ltd, the freeholders of Sherborne Hotel, and will start consulting on its plans for the site in the new year.
Town councillor Marjorie Snowden said the development could be "tragic" for the historic town.
"This is an absolute bolt from the blue. It could be disastrous," she said.
"It will pose a threat to businesses in the town centre. There is so much land on the site that it could be twice the size of Sainsbury's.
"Sherborne has a rich heritage. We are trying to step up tourism but tourists won't come here to use Tesco."
Mrs Snowden said she believed the store was counting on people moving into the recently approved Barton Farm development on the outskirts of the town to generate custom for the proposed store.
"They're banking on hundreds of people moving in to the new development. They can't expect people to drive back from Yeovil to use Tesco.
"I don't think people want a Tesco in this town and I'm expecting a very negative local reaction," she added.
A spokeswoman for Tesco said the new store would create in the region of 200 new jobs. The business has guaranteed job interviews with staff at Sherborne Hotel who want to work for Tesco if its planning application is successful.
"We are pleased to be proposing a Tesco supermarket for Sherborne. We believe a food store will offer improved choice for local shoppers, many of whom are currently travelling elsewhere to do their weekly shop," the spokeswoman said.
"Our proposals are still in their very early stages and we look forward to holding a wide reaching public consultation exercise next year allowing all residents, community groups and representatives to comment on our proposals ahead of a potential planning application next spring."