A major jobs boost in Eastbourne has been put under threat.

DIY giant B&Q had earmarked land at Sovereign Harbour as the site for a new flagship superstore. The new store would create as many as 170 jobs, but county planners are seeking to halt the development.

A report by officers at East Sussex County Council has criticised the plan, saying it could jeopardise businesses in Eastbourne town centre. County councillors are being urged by officers to throw out the plans, which are also to be discussed by Eastbourne Borough Council.

The report, to be presented to members of the county council's planning and highways committee today, also says the proposed store is too big, has poor transport links and would be out of place.

Instead, it recommends the land would be better used as a site for high-tech firms.

The report says: "The applicants have failed to demonstrate a quantitative and qualitative need for a store of this size. There is a real concern that it would inflict significant harm on the vitality and viability of Eastbourne town centre."

The proposed superstore also includes provision for 600 car parking spaces. But Bob Backhouse, Eastbourne borough councillor for the area, said it would be an economic blow if the plans were axed.

He said: "There are concerns at a county level and perhaps there are some major problems with the plans. But perhaps they can be altered. It would be a real shame if this did not go ahead because of the amount of much-needed jobs it would bring to Eastbourne."

Plans are also under way to build hundreds of new homes at Sovereign Harbour.

Coun Backhouse added: "There is likely to be a massive growth in the number of people living in the area so this amount of jobs would be of real benefit."

B&Q already has a smaller superstore at Hampden Park, which would close if the plans were accepted. Workers would then be relocated to Sovereign Harbour.

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