MORRISONS has been urged to speed up its multimillion pound plans to open a new high street shop after revealing it was unlikely to open until the end of next year.

The supermarket chain is set to move into a new store on the site of the former Co-op store in Wickford town centre. 

The Co-op closed last month and is set to be demolished.

Bosses behind the project say demolition work could start in September and will be quikcly followed by building works.

The new shop will include 255 parking spaces and it will create an additional 70 jobs in the town.

Mark Williamson, 59, from Wickford, said: “I think some people will feel they are losing out as Co-op had loyal customers.

“I would like to see it a bit quicker but I know these things do take some time. It will be a good thing for the town.”

David Harrison, Wickford Independents councillor for Wickford Park said: “It’s all really positive and I am hoping it comes to the council’s planning committee before August.

“I was hoping it would be open early next year and I hope these timescales can be brought forward a bit.

“It’s going to be very beneficial for Wickford and it’s needed and it cannot come quick enough."

Mr Harrison added it was a "pity" the town had to wait so long for a new supermarket. 

Developer Heriot claims the new Morrisons will "vastly" improve the high street.

A spokesman for the developer said: “Demolition and construction should hopefully commence beginning of September and take one year before handing over the store to Morrisons for their internal fit out.

"We would envisage Morrisons would look to open the store at the end of 2023 or early in 2024.

“We have been advised by Morrisons that 117 jobs will be created, which is an increase of around 70 when compared to the Co-Op.

“The total cost of demolishing the existing structure, building a new building and levelling the whole parking lot will cost several million pounds.

“Replacing the existing food store will enable the delivery of a modern and attractive contemporary store with good legibility and sustainable credentials to aid the redevelopment of what is an out-dated and run-down site.

“We will also be looking to get permission to demolish the building before all the pre-commencement conditions have to be satisfied in order to try and fast track the process.”