WAITROSE is in talks to build a large supermarket and community centre on the site of a council car park in Coulsdon, the Advertiser can reveal.
Developers working for Croydon Council are considering the major development in Lion Green Road, at the foot of soon-to-be-developed Cane Hill.
They have asked the council to assess its potential environmental impact, a possible first step in the planning process, while a council spokesman said the plans were an "outline idea" and nothing was decided.
The proposals are for a 4,700sq m retail foodstore and a community hall of 1,500sq m.
A spokesman for Waitrose, which has a medium-sized store in Brighton Road, said on Wednesday: "We have had discussions with the council and their development partners about exploring this opportunity as one to relocate our existing branch there. However, these are still at a early stage and no firm plans are in place."
The plans are being proposed by the Croydon Council Urban Regeneration Vehicle, a partnership between the council and developer John Laing to develop certain sites in the borough.
Community leaders and local residents expressed mixed feelings about the possible development.
Amanda Davis, chairman of the Coulsdon Business Partnership, said she worried the supermarket might not encourage people to visit the town centre. She said: "They may come and use the supermarket but not go around town, just come and go. There needs to be the right mix of shops to help people into the town centre."
Coulsdon resident Millen Shah, who lives in Edward Road, said: "I am in favour of dual-use developments and I think it would be great to have a community centre; we desperately need one.
"It would be nice to have some kind of area designated for health and fitness, such as a gym or some kind of courts – tennis or badminton or squash."
He added: "But I also know quite a few people in our road shop via online deliveries.
"Given this, do we actually need to have a big supermarket located in the town?"
Charles King, chairman of the East Coulsdon Residents' Association, echoed Ms Davis's concerns, saying he was wary of the location on the edge of the town centre.
He said "We do need a supermarket; there are various surveys about the 'leakage' as they call it that takes place because there is not a big enough supermarket to do a big family shop
"But we are wary of having it at Lion Green Road, because of concern of the 'Tesco Purley effect' – people will shop there but not come into the town."