West Devon Borough Council’s youngest member says a new, larger Co-op for Bere Alston is key to the development of the parish, which has the third largest population in West Devon borough.

Labour councillor for the Bere Ferrers ward, Isabel Saxby, supports plans for the store and says it will bring more housing, more money and more opportunities for a village which often loses out to Tavistock and Okehampton.

The proposed Co-op on the edge of the town is controversial, with residents both for and against the plans, and concern over the effect it will have on the high street.

But Cllr Saxby said the current Co-op in the main street was no longer fit for purpose and could close with nothing else to fill the gap.

She said: “I understand the concerns but at the moment people are travelling to Tavistock to do their main shopping anyway. My grandmother is 84 and has to get in the car to travel. We should be creating sustainable communities where people can get everything they need where they live.”

She continued: “We lost out on the £200,000 for an active travel project because we are just not big enough. It would be great to have a cycleway from Bere Alston to Tavistock but at the moment the money gets spent in Tavistock because you get more bang for your buck.”

The proposed new store, beside the B3257, would be three times the size of the current one and offer good disability access, EV charging points and a bigger range of foods like vegan products.

The application by Westcountry Land (Kenwyn) Ltd was submitted last year and is expected to be come before the West Devon Borough Council planning committee for consideration by councillors in the next few weeks.