CAMPAIGNERS trying to stop a proposed new supermarket in Worcester face six weeks of baited breath before learning the site's fate.

Government Inspector Emlyn Williams told yesterday's public inquiry into Sainsbury's planned St John's development that he estimated he would announce his decision Monday, January 14.

The main body of the inquiry was held between Tuesday, November 13, and Friday, November 16, but summing up was held at the Guildhall yesterday with representatives from Sainsbury's, Co-op Pioneer, which has a store in St John's, the city council's planning department, and campaign group Save Our St John's (SOS), which is opposing the plans.

The inquiry was called after the council threw out Sainsbury's proposal for a 24,500sq ft store on Swanpool Walk because the area would become over-developed. A public inquiry was launched after the supermarket appealed.

David Birtwhistle, a member of SOS, said he was pleased the inquiry had been held and predicted it was a "50/50" chance of scotching the supermarket chain's proposals.

But he claimed even if the supermarket was built, the five-day inquiry would ensure conditions and measures were made to ensure the impact of it was as little as possible.

"We're pleased we were allowed to make our case," he said.

"Having the local knowledge was also a major advantage as everyone at the inquiry was from outside Worcester, which was clearly very important."

But he added he was glad the group had been able to put its point across, something members had felt the city's planning officers had not allowed them to do.

"Having the ability to give our views at the inquiry was very welcome, and a complete contrast to the way we were dismissed by the city council," added Mr Birtwhistle.

But Peter Yates, head of planning at Worcester City Council's planning department, called the comments "unfair". He said officers had spent many hours liaising with members of the pressure group and had attended meetings with them.

"The group had five minutes to address the planning committee when it met to hear the proposals, but that was the same as Sainsbury's," he said.

"We ensure in every case those on both sides get five minutes to put their case forward, that way it's fair. But officers have spent many hours with and talking to members of SOS, so I think the remark is a little unfair."