TRURO'S business leaders have warned a proposed £110 million retail scheme at St Austell would lead to a drop in trade in the city.
Truro Chamber of Commerce is objecting to a controversial planning application for a 160,000sq ft retail park including a Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, hotel, pub, and care village with assisted living units, all on 98 acres of green land at Coyte Farm.
The chamber's chairman, Alan Davies, wrote to Cornwall Council planners: "The commercial impact on surrounding retail centres is likely to be dramatic, and at a time when some are hanging on by their fingertips, this could well close them down, so any projections of job growth have to be offset against a backdrop of job losses in many towns.
"Widely publicised figures predict a drop in turnover in local towns to be between -23.2 per cent for St Austell, down to 6 per cent in Truro, but other towns such as Newquay and Bodmin, having double figure percentage drops in turnover."
He adds that current council offices on Penwinnick Road would make a more suitable site.
"The scale of the project is vast in comparison to the commercial centres closest to it ... making it the third largest retail centre in the county.
"This is a particular issue currently when high street retailers are under pressure for a variety of reasons. Town centres are the heart of the community and should be supported."
The chamber is urging the authority to reject the proposals as being against its own planning policies and impacting on the viability and vitality of other town centres.