The final round in the battle to extend the Morrisons store in Witham is set to begin next week.

A three day appeal hearing will begin on Tuesday into the supermarket’s plans to expand its store in Braintree Road, Witham.

In February this year Braintree Council turned down an application to extend the store by 70 per cent, as it believed it would damage the town centre Tesco store and associated trade, and the plans to revamp the Newlands Shopping Centre.

In June Morrisons lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate.

A spokesman said: “We are very confident.

“We haven’t ever seen people take so well to a supermarket’s plans in the town.”

He refused to comment on a last ditch report submitted by Sainsbury’s on October 22, which claims the extension could also damage Braintree’s town centre trade.

The report also questioned why Morrisons was trying to extend its Witham store rather than its Braintree store, the latter of which meets Braintree Council’s policy of protecting town centre trade.

During the three day hearing, which will be held at Witham Public Hall in Collingwood Road, inspector Melvyn Middleton will hear evidence from a number of different parties including Witham Town Council leader Michael Lager.

Mr Lager said: “I think Braintree Council’s reasons for not allowing these improvements to the Morrisons store are flawed.”

He believes the strength of the town centre has been underestimated, that the idea of instead building a new store on the Newlands Shopping Centre is not viable and that the north of the town does not have enough access to supermarkets.

A decision will be expected towards the end of this year or early in the New Year.