SUPERSTORE chain Tesco has upset businesses and residents in Thame, after approaching South Oxfordshire District Council with new proposals for a store in the town.

Despite a failed attempt more than three years ago to win planning permission for an out-of-town store off the Thame by-pass, Tesco has expressed a strong interest in developing the present cattle market site.

Present managers of the site, Thame Farmers Auction Mart, and fellow farmers who use the market, have shown signs of looking for an alternative, more convenient site, following a resurgence in business since reopening after the foot-and-mouth crisis.

However, Thame Town Council believes the town would benefit from developing the North Street site for community use, and are opposed to Tesco's renewed application.

Cllr Andy Gunn, chairman of the policy and resource committee, said: "Everything available in a Tesco store is already widely available in stores across the town, and because of the central nature of the site, the general feeling is that the introduction of another large store would damage trade in the town.

Peter Bailey, managing director for the cattle market, said: "If SODC wish to redevelop the site, we would not be unhappy to move, provided the market can be relocated in Thame."

Marie Ainsworth, strategic director for SODC, is fronting a team looking at the future of Thame cattle market. She said: "I Have had only one meeting with St James Investments and I made it very clear that at this time, the district council is not considering a food store for this site."

Any likelihood of such a scheme going ahead depends partly on the response of 600 residents, who have been contacted by private investment company St James Investments, working on behalf of Tesco.

St James Investments, will be presenting the proposed development, to Thame Town Council on June 25.