IMAGINATIVE thinking is needed to protect family businesses and town centres, according to Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner, who has spoken out as councillors consider plans for a new Asda supermarket on the edge of Newport.
Councillors are due to meet next Wednesday, to discuss rival applications to build a supermarket on or near St George’s Park football ground.
One of the plans, put forward by the owners of the ground, South Coast Leisure (SCL), includes moving the ground to neighbouring land, although Asda has said it has no interest in using that proposal.
Mr Turner said: "We all use supermarkets, and many would like the option of an Asda, but perhaps we should be looking at different supermarket models.
"If we do have another one in my opinion it should not be 'out of town’ but rather in town, accessible to those without cars and where our local shops will not be so disadvantaged.
"Other towns have supermarkets built above car parks in town or with car parking on their roof — why can’t we? It’s true it is a more expensive option, so clearly one that the supermarkets themselves might not favour, but it is one that doesn’t seem to have been explored.
"We need some imaginative thinking if our town centres and family businesses are to be protected. If town centres continue to lose out to green-field developments we will lose many more jobs than a new supermarket would create.
He added: "Another concern I have is the road infrastructure. It is just not suitable as it is. Eight years ago I suggested a ring road from Staplers to St Georges to relieve the pressure on Coppins Bridge.
"It was not considered then but perhaps now is the time to think about it, and make it a condition if approval is to be given to an out-of-town option. It is absolutely essential we get these matters sorted out properly before any permission is given."