YEOVIL businesses are backing a campaign to stop retail giant Tesco opening a supermarket in Sherborne.
Members of the Yeovil Chamber of Trade and Commerce have rallied to support their sister organisation in Sherborne which plans to fight a potential redevelopment of the Sherborne Hotel, on the A30.
A statement said chamber members fear the plans would have a “knock-on effect for Yeovil”.
Business owner Jason Livingstone, vice-president of the Yeovil Chamber, said members are wholeheartedly against out-of-town retail developments which could cause a “doughnut effect” in Sherborne’s town centre.
He said: “We are actively appealing for all Yeovil businesses to sign the petition against the plans.”
Mr Livingstone said another store could drive business away from Yeovil, where there are already three – soon to be four – Tesco outlets.
He said: “But our main concern is that out-of-town retail sucks the life out of the centre, effectively leaving a hole.
“We have had similar problems with this ourselves and we completely support the campaign. We are equally as concerned about Tesco’s plans for a new outlet in the Picketty Witch pub in Yeovil.”
Earlier this month the Western Gazette reported plans to turn Ilchester Road pub The Picketty Witch into a Tesco express.
Melanie Chiswell, corporate affairs manager for Tesco, said up to 20 full and part-time jobs would be created at the store, which will open seven days a week from 7am until 10 or 11pm.
Work will begin February, with an expected opening date in spring or summer.
Meanwhile Sherborne’s independent traders formed the campaign group No Thanks Tesco in response to news Tesco had signed an agreement with Torbeg Ltd, freeholders of the Sherborne Hotel.
In less than two weeks more than 2,000 people had signed an online and paper petitions.
The campaign was also backed by retail guru Mary Portas.
The site is directly opposite land at Barton Farm, which received planning permission for more than 200 new homes in September.
A spokeswoman for Tesco said a public consultation on any plans for the site will be held in the new year.
She said: “Our proposals are still in their very early stages and we look forward to holding a wide-reaching public consultation next year ahead of a potential planning application next spring.”
She said the store would create around 200 jobs and a priority job interview was guaranteed for any hotel staff interested in working for Tesco.
A spokesman for West Dorset District Council said no pre-application approaches or planning applications from Tesco had been received.