SAINSBURY'S proposals for a new store in York, which would create up to 400 jobs, have come a step closer to reality with the submission of a planning application.

The retail giant is seeking permission from City of York Council to convert the B&Q store on Hull Road into a 60,000 sq ft foodstore.

The Press reported in March that a petition asking for stricter controls around supermarket development had been signed by more than 1,700 people.

The petition, launched by Graham Kennedy, owner of the nearby Hull Road Service Station, said York had too many large supermarkets and any further expansion would threaten the existence and sustainability of independent local retailers.

It called for City of York Council not to give any further planning permission for stores without a public debate.

Mr Kennedy also said he feared for the future of his business of 25 years, and for his 36 staff should Sainsbury's get planning permission.

But Sainsbury's says that its plans, first unveiled at a public exhibition in January, have gained strong support from members of the public.

A spokeswoman said that more than 70 per cent of respondents were in favour of the scheme, which would feature 490 car parking spaces, a customer café and two electric vehicle charging bays.

Bruno Moore, head of Town Planning for Sainsbury’s, said: “We’ve worked really hard to finalise the details of the plans, and are really pleased to have submitted our application for the council’s consideration.

“Our exhibition in January was well attended and we received really positive feedback from lots of people in the local community."

He said there wasn't a large foodstore in this part of York, so the scheme could really improve shopping choice for local people.

“We hope people will continue to engage with us now that we have submitted our plans.”

The spokeswoman said a decision by the council was expected later this year but she was unable to speculate on when the store might open.

B & Q said last October that it intended to secure a new store to replace the one closing in Hull Road.