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Sherborne Tesco row

Tesco plans to build a superstore in Sherborne Photo: PA

Sherborne in Dorset is the latest town in the Westcountry to oppose plans for a new Tesco superstore.

But in the past, opposition groups in Tiverton, Honiton and Seaton have all fought - and lost - campaigns against the supermarket giant.

This week the company began a consultation process with local people ahead of submitting a bid. Tesco is hoping to demolish a hotel in the town and build a supermarket.

"If Tesco comes, we certainly won't have a hotel and a lot of shops will go. It's as simple as that", said one local, while another expressed concerns about tourism. "If we lose Sherborne Hotel, where will the visitors come from?"

"People come here to see such a wonderful town, to see the small shops that are here, something different and interesting and I feel Tesco would completely undermine that."

As the meeting started, some shops closed their doors. Traders hoping to show how they think the town centre would be affected if a large supermarket opened on the outskirts. Some filled windows with posters. Others went further, bleakly boarding up their shops, offering their vision of the future.

Back at the Digby Hall hundreds packed in to talk to Tesco. The company's aim is to gauge people's views and help shape the plans before seeking permission to build a supermarket.

Melanie Chiswell from Tesco said: "There is a mixed amount of feeling in Sherborne. Some people are against the idea, but some people I've spoken to are very much for it. There are lots of families looking for extra choice who drive to Yeovil to do their shopping who don't want to get in their cars and there are other people who say they're happy with what they've got in Sherborne and they don't want another supermarket, so it's a very mixed view."

On Cheap Street today, there was great debate about the supermarket. It's proposed for a site currently home to a hotel that's popular with coach parties. One concern is if the hotel's demolished, there will be nowhere else for them to stay.

Campaign HQ today was above a hair and beauty salon. The concern here is that if a supermarket starts to suck life from the high street, the town will simply be less appealing to visitors.

Peter Neal from Keep Sherborne Viable told us: "The primary issue is tourism, 40,000 visitors. Why take away the biggest accommodation and have a superstore the town clearly doesn't need?"

Despite the protest today, Tesco says it is keen to develop in Sherborne and believes there is support and potential customers here. With a planning application still to come, this battle has just begun.