MEMBERS of Redditch Council's planning committee have deferred making a decision on plans for a new Asda store in the town.

The new Asda store would sit alongside a revamped B&Q store in Smallwood, and would create up to 400 new jobs.

The council’s planning committee considered the application at a meeting on Wednesday, August 6 but councillors have asked for more time before they make a final decision.

An initial planning report by planning officers recommended that councillors grant permission for the planning application. But the report was then changed to recommend refusal.

The applicants expressed their shock at this very sudden U-turn, which, they said, flew in the face of public opinion.

An Asda spokesman said as well as increasing choice and competition for local shoppers, it would deliver a huge economic boost to the area, through the creation of up to 400 new jobs. In addition, the existing B&Q jobs on site would all be retained, bringing a further boost to many local households who are still facing ongoing challenges from the fall out of the recession.

One of the reasons which was given for the recommendation for refusal was that a foodstore located outside the town centre would impact on the ability of the town centre to attract an additional supermarket , which would undermine a key objective of the emerging Local Plan no 4.

Asda senior property communications manager, Philip Bartram, said: "We were disappointed that council officers changed their recommendation from positive to negative just prior to the planning committee meeting, but pleased that members chose to have their own objective views on the proposal.

"We now look forward to the next planning committee meeting in September, and hope very much that the members' decision on the day reflects both the many potential benefits of the scheme, and the vast majority of public opinion."

A council spokesman said: "In light of the updated recommendation, members felt they wanted more time to consider the issue."