Plans to build a new supermarket in Southport were finally approved this summer – five years after initial proposals were submitted to the council.

In 2017, Sainsbury’s received planning permission to demolish the former Homebase site at Meols Cop Retail Park and build a 60,000 sq ft store and petrol station.

The application was highly contentious and only approved following a five-day public inquiry, called for by former Southport MP and now councillor John Pugh in 2015.

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The initial inquiry cost more than £130k of local taxpayers’ money and the four years spent revising the plans have meant countless hours of labour for council officers, piling more and more on to the bill.

But despite the plans being approved, work didn't start and in October 2018, Sainsbury’s formally submitted new plans for a smaller 50,000 sq ft store at the same site.

As well as the main store, the development is set to feature a four-pump petrol filling station with a ‘kiosk’ and public recycling facility, new car parking, landscaping and associated infrastructure works (following the demolition of some existing buildings).

After a discussion lasting around 45 minutes at a meeting in August, Sefton Council ‘s planning committee agreed to submit the plans to the Secretary of State for approval.

But there is still no estimation of when the store will open.

Sainsbury's said the latest delay is due to some sort of court proceedings.

Their spokesman told the ECHO : “We are disappointed by the latest delay, but we have to wait for the conclusion of the court proceedings prior to confirming timings over the building of the new store.”

Sefton Council was approached for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.

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