DEVELOPERS have unveiled their vision for the planned new Wessex Stadium retail and leisure complex.

Asda wants to leave its harbourside site for a larger store at Weymouth Football Club’s home.

Under the terms of the deal, the Terras would have a new state-of-the-art 6,000-capacity stadium built next door. Detailed drawings of the proposal are revealed for the first time in today’s Echo.

Asda wants to open a new 91,000 sq ft store at the Wessex Stadium, nearly double the size of its current 48,000 sq ft Newstead Road home.

New sporting facilities – including a speedway track – and around 200 extra jobs would also be created under the scheme.

The supermarket giant yesterday told a government inspector the development would boost shopping facilities for the area.

Asda representatives said they need to move because their town centre store cannot cope with demand.

The inquiry into West Dorset District Council’s Local Plan also heard the development is crucial to Weymouth Football Club’s future.

West Dorset had not designated the Wessex Stadium for future retail use because not enough planning evidence had been put forward, government inspector Jill Kingaby heard.

Asda representative Peter Waldren said: “The development of a new Asda at the Wessex Stadium will allow us to provide a greater range, variety and depth of produce within a high quality, modern and clean store not currently available in the Weymouth area.”

Mr Waldren added that Asda reviewed a host of sites in and around the town, but only the Wessex Stadium was deemed suitable.

These included the Colwell Centre, bus depot, Westwey Road, Tod Works, Osprey Quay, May Farm at Chickerell and the former Normans store.

The current New Look site was ruled out because it was deemed too close to rivals Safeway’s store, the inquiry heard.

For Asda, Vincent Fraser QC added: “Whilst the football stadium is less than 20 years old it is already suffering from problems and it is inadequate for the club’s needs.

“The proposals would clearly increase the amount of built development in this urban fringe area, but a substantial open area would remain which would be secured by its use for recreational purposes.

“A failure to address the identified need will harm the interests of the local area and would be contrary to government policy.”

The meeting heard extra bus routes would run to the site, while Weymouth Football Club would use a car park facility separate to the store.

Asda has worked with other football clubs on similar projects, including Manchester City’s Eastlands and Bolton’s Reebok Stadium.

The hearing was told Weymouth Football Club’s new facilities would include a 12 bed players hostel, and a small number of retail units sited under a stand.

For West Dorset, Huw Williams said: “The concerns regarding the adequacy of the sequential analyses undertaken to date are reinforced by the emergence of a series of new sites in and around Weymouth town centre that certainly require closer consideration before Wessex Stadium should be allocated.”

He added that West Dorset would be willing to sit down with neighbouring Weymouth and Portland Borough Council to devise a co-ordinated retail strategy for the respective authorities.

West Dorset barrister Anthony Porter QC said the council were concerned a number of public footpaths would be lost under the scheme.

The inspector will make a decision on the scheme later this year.

If she backs the Asda development, a planning application for the site is then expected to be lodged to West Dorset.

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