A STEADY stream of curious residents have been scrutinising plans for a new multi-million pound Sainsbury’s supermarket in Ambleside.

Developers, architects and the company’s public relations representatives manned the stands at two exhibition days at the weekend.

Display boards at the town’s Parish Church Centre showed how the 14,000ft2 food store – planned for land next to Hayes Garden World – could look. The firm says the scheme could create 100 new jobs and is determined the public have their say first.

Andrew Sanderson, of Sainsbury’s, said turnout was ‘excellent’ despite the hot weather and the feedback was ‘very useful’.

Mr Sanderson added: “Feedback forms will now be distributed throughout Ambleside so that anyone unable to attend last week’s events can have their say. We will consider all the comments we receive in the coming weeks and take into account wherever possible the suggestions of the local community.”

An application to the Lake District National Park Authority is likely later in the year.

One resident taking a look on Saturday was Judy Shaw, of Hawkshead, who said: “They seem to have gone for the cheapest, lowest common denominator building. “I think it’s awful – stone and wood that won’t look good in five years if it’s not maintained. I would like them to do something that reflects the architecture of the area, that looks local and doesn’t look like any other Sainsbury’s anywhere else.”

But David Crouchley, of Windermere, said: “I’m generally in favour. I think it would be good for there to be a one-stop shop in Ambleside. “It’s important the building fits in with local architectural style.

“The concern I have is about the detrimental effect a store like this could have on local shopkeepers. But having lived in Penrith, where Cranstons built a store which incorporated local fishmongers and butchers, there are models where local traders can thrive alongside supermarkets.”

The store – which will not have a garage or cafe – is smaller than Sainsbury’s usual developments and about a third the size of Hayes, say the company, who added it would mean ‘more choice, competition and variety’ for Ambleside’s food offer.

It also says it would cut the ‘time taken and distance travelled’ for residents to do their weekly shop – helping the environment. Many in the town are backing the store but the Federation for Small Businesses in Cumbria has reservations.

Gary Lovatt, its regional chairman, said Ambleside was unlike many places around the country in not being a ‘clone town’.

“We should be celebrating and building on that instead of trying to attract these national chains which will tear into the fabric of the area. “The job creation figures will likely prove inaccurate once we actually see job losses caused by smaller traders forced to lay off staff or close.

“Our research shows that money spent with small businesses locally tends to be re-spent in the local economy, whereas profits made by large businesses are more likely to go out of an area and redistributed to shareholders.”

Further information is available online at www.sainsburys-ambleside.co.uk or by calling 0800 319 6162.