Plans for a 50% expansion of The Mall at Cribbs Causeway near Bristol have been called in for inquiry by the government, after concerns were raised by local towns and transport groups.
The proposed expansion represents a £300m investment by owners of the site, Intu, M&G Real Estate and JT Bayliss, and would add new retail, leisure and restaurant spaces to the centre. Plans were initially approved last year, but will now face a final decision from the secretary of state, the BBC has reported.
The inquiry has been prompted by concerns over traffic, and worries the shopping centre would detract from the local economy by damaging business in local shops.
Transport groups were described as being “extremely fearful” of the impact the expanded shopping centre could have on traffic, and warned of gridlock on the roads surrounding the area.
John Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare, said he believed the shopping centre would “damage Weston’s regeneration by taking away around 8.3% of trade (£39m) by 2021”.
However, South Gloucestershire Council “remain optimistic” that the plans will go ahead. Philip Vaughan, director of development and construction at M&G Real Estate, said that the plan would represent “significant investment” for the region.
Commenting on the news on behalf of the joint owners, Vaughan said: “We have been advised of the Secretary of State’s decision to call-in the locally approved application for the extension of The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. We will continue to engage, as appropriate, with this process in order to present the significant investment this application offers for South Gloucestershire and the South West as a whole.”