A WARNING has been fired over plans for a new £150 million Worcester shopping park - amid fears it could damage the city centre.
Worcester Business Improvement District (BID), which represents traders in and around the High Street, says it is vital a new retail centre off Newtown Road does not detract from the existing shops.
The body says there are too many cities across the country which have allowed large out-of-town retail parks to go ahead, only for rules to eventually be relaxed on what can be sold, damaging the main shopping areas.
As your Worcester News revealed earlier this month, developer Land Securities is set to submit a planning application in October for a 240,000 sq ft shopping centre on acres of green fields at Worcester Woods.
It is likely to include John Lewis and Next, both of which are considering opening up specialised home and garden stores.
Adrian Field, from Worcester BID, said: "There are plenty of examples around, the country where city centres have suffered once other retail outlets have opened, and once that's happened it is hard to come back.
"In April (when we first revealed the plans) I did have phone calls from retailers in the city expressing concern.
"The key to this for us is public consultation, we need to get a broad view on what all the city centre shops think of it.
"You might get 50 per cent say they welcome investment, but on the other hand the other 50 per cent might say they don't want it.
"A clear view from the business community is vital."
Earlier this month Councillor Simon Geraghty, city council leader, said the Conservative leadership has a "city centre first policy" and would not want the High Street to be damaged in any way.
That is likely to lead to Land Securities only getting planning permission if all the new retailers sell items not readily available in the city - a stance which has already led to the likes of John Lewis looking at an 'at home' store.
A public consultation is expected to take place next month, led by the developer, before the planning application is submitted.
The development will come with around 1,100 parking spaces, with the largest anchor store set to span 90,000 sq ft.
It is expected to contain around 12 retail units.