A LONG-SERVING independent trader in Worcester has voiced his concern over the proposed £150 million John Lewis-led shopping park - admitting he fears for the city centre.

Mark Stewart, who runs Wise Owl Toys in Charles Street with wife Heather, has urged the city council to protect the High Street at all costs.

Mr Stewart, who has ran a retail businesses in the city for two decades, is one of many traders objecting to the Worcester Woods complex off Newtown Road.

It comes as a new survey of city centre traders was released showing how 73 per cent of them have concerns about the out-of-town proposal - and just one per cent back it.

Mr Stewart said: "Even though Worcester Woods say it'll create lots of jobs I just wonder what the loss would be to the city centre.

"In our position, if we saw people going out of the city rather than shop in it we'd have to seriously consider what we'd do - if that happened we'd close down.

"The whole thing is an almighty risk to the city centre."

It comes as Worcester's Business Improvement District (BID) released results of a survey showing widespread concern after polling 550 different city centre shop owners.

Some 73 per cent of traders said they believed it would have a negative or hugely negative impact on their business, from 78 respondents.

Just 12 per cent felt it would be positive, with 14 per cent believing there would be no change and one per cent calling it 'hugely positive'.

Tim Evans, who runs Toys & Games of Worcester, in Broad Street said: "Things are going well for us, but this is a huge cloud on the horizon.

"It's a real concern for everyone."

Land Securities, which is behind the Worcester Woods project, has reiterated its position that the development will boost the city, not detract from it.

The out-of-town complex, which would create 551 jobs, is for 13 shopping units.

A Marks &Spencer, Sainsbury’s with an eight-pump petrol station, £7 million 40,000 sq ft John Lewis at Home store and a Next Home and Garden outlet are signed up already.

A spokesman said: "The new centre will create up to 1,000 new jobs, a 551 full-time equivalent, and deliver a £150m investment in Worcester.

"It will also attract new retailers, including John Lewis to Worcester and allow existing retailers such as M&S and Next to expand their offer whilst retaining their existing presence in the city centre.

"As part of the application, we have submitted a retail study which shows there will be no significant adverse impact on the city centre."

The concern from city centre traders follows our report on Saturday about Redditch Borough Council and the town's Kingfisher Shopping Centre lodging objections, claiming it will damage north Worcestershire if the planning application gets the nod.