PEOPLE in Hook look set to be disappointed if they were hoping to get a Waitrose store in the village.

Robert Jackson, development manager at Hart District Council, said the supermarket chain had been in pre-application discussions about opening a small store in the village.

He was speaking at a meeting of district council’s planning committee, before it looked at an application by Sainsbury’s to build a 30,000sq ft store to the north-east of Hook.

But James Armstrong, property and development manager at Waitrose, told The Gazette: “Whilst we explored the possibility of a small shop there in the past, we are not looking at any opportunities there at the present time.”

More than 40 villagers turned up for the meeting last Wednesday, many of whom were opposed to the Sainsbury’s plan, with traffic congestion among their concerns.

Mr Jackson spoke before the debate to explain an increasingly complex background to Sainsbury’s planning application.

As well as the Waitrose interest, he said the district council had just received an application by Tesco to double the size of its store in Station Road.

Speaking on behalf of residents, Neil Forsyth called on the district council to defer the decision on the Sainsbury’s application to consider the interest from the other two companies.

He added: “This proposed store is the wrong size, the wrong location, and it is being considered at the wrong time.”

But Mr Jackson said that was not a valid reason for deferring a decision.

Andrew Pepler, regional town planning manager at Sainsbury’s, urged the planning committee to follow the recommendation by planning officers to approve the plan.

He said: “The officer’s report has been very thorough and helpful, and hopefully this will be a store that will serve the community well in the future.”

Members raised concerns about traffic and the effect of the store on the village’s sewer system, but approved the application by a majority of 11 to four.

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, will have the final say on the Sainsbury’s application.