WESTBRIDGE Park remains the town's most suitable site for a new food retailer, council chiefs say, and they have announced last-minute plans to move the town centre boundary to include part of the park.
Stafford Borough Council's plans for the future development of Stone were considered by planning inspector Stephen Pratt on Tuesday, as part of the public examination of the Plan for Stafford Borough.
But their "minor modifications" to extend the town centre development boundary to encompass part of Westbridge Park, Crown Wharf and the Morrison's car park have come late to the table and may trigger another six- week consultation, Mr Pratt warned at Tuesday's hearing.
He said: "I can see people in the room are looking in surprise at these changes.
"I have to consider these modifications and whether they should be main modifications. If they are main I will allow another six weeks to consult.
"I haven't yet decided but I think you may infer that I consider them perhaps a little more than minor modifications."
The move came in the wake of a new retail report, the hearing was told, and included changing proposals for land at Westbridge Park, previously described as a mixed use development, to leisure and community facilities and retail development, but not residential development.
Paul Shuker, speaking on behalf of Stafford Borough Council, said: "A need for a new food store has been identified and we believe this is the best site available for the town."
Campaign group Keep Westbridge Park Green has been calling for Stafford Borough Council to drop the mixed use development plans for Westbridge Park.
It collected more than 4,700 signatures on a petition, handed to Stafford Borough Council last year.
Speaking on Tuesday Ian Fordham, representing KWPG, said: "I think this is a remarkable response to a petition and testimony to the strength of feeling of the residents."
He said he was glad the council had finally “come clean" about its intentions.
The group remains completely opposed to any supermarket development in the park - although they do not oppose proposals for a new leisure centre there.
Fellow group member Peter Weatherhead said: “The group objects both to the retail site in the park and to the town centre boundary being extended.