THE hopes of two supermarket giants planning to build anew stores in the centre of New Barnet have been dashed after the council signed off a new framework.

Both Tesco and Asda had put forward proposals to redevelop sites in the middle of the town, both of which involved superstore style shops and increased levels of housing.

However, local residents formed a Save New Barnet campaign group and railed against these plans, arguing they would transform the nature of the town centre completely.

In February three options, one for Asda and Tesco stores and a third for a “consolidated high street” were published for public consultation, with thousands of residents backing smartening up the existing area over the other two.

Last night Barnet Council's cabinet formally agreed to accept the preservation option, to the delight of campaigners, who have organised petitions and public meetings over the past 12 months.

The plan adopted means residents will get more say over smaller scale developments and improvements which take place.

It would see the East Barnet Gas Works site in Albert Road earmarked for family housing as well as some retail and recreation space, while other sites would be supported for residential use.

Councillor Richard Cornelius played down concerns raised by residents the land owned by Tesco and Asda might not be developed at the cabinet meeting.

He said: “There is concern the landowners may not choose to do anything with their sites, but that's unlikely in that they are commercial enterprises and do have to realise a return on their capital.

“I would like to thank residents for looking at this and brining their influence to bear.” The option was also backed by cabinet members Robert Rams and Joanna Tambourides, who are also East Barnet ward councillors.

Afterwards the new plan was welcomed by residents and campaigners, who credited the “whole community” for “speaking up and making their voices heard”.

John Dix of Save New Barnet, said: "This is only the end of the beginning. The hard work starts here.

“We are already looking forward to working with potential investors and developers, including Asda and Tesco who, between them, own several derelict sites in the centre of New Barnet.”

David Howard, trustee of New Barnet Community Association, added: “Using the town centre strategy and the community's vision for New Barnet as a guide, rundown properties in the local area can be brought back into use to enhance New Barnet.

“This document will help us to ensure this is done through good-quality traditional design and imaginative use of space to provide public amenities, non-food shops and much-needed family homes.”