Sainsbury's impact on Malmesbury area would result in an estimated loss of £5million turnover from local businesses, an independent retail report has said.

The report, published this week by property consultancy firm GVA, was commissioned by Wiltshire Council to look at the effects the proposed Sainsbury’s and Waitrose stores would have on the town.

The report compares the two applications, concluding that Waitrose would be “sequentially preferable to Sainsbury's”.

“If the council concludes that the Waitrose-proposed site is suitable for new food store development (having regard to its wider policy consideration of conservation area, listed building, access and other issues), we consider this site would be sequentially preferable to Sainsbury's,” the report said.

“We consider the Sainsbury proposal would have much more significant impact on both convenience and comparison with retailers in the town centre.

“While the store would also provide choice and competition, and generate employment and other assets, we consider the impact implications of the centre are much more significant, which would shift the planning balance.”

The report found Waitrose would not have such a detrimental effect.

“We do not consider the Waitrose store is likely to lead to any significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Malmesbury town centre,” it said.

“In these circumstances we would recommend the council balances this negative impact of the proposals against the additional benefits of providing choice and competition, and addressing the identified need for improved convenience retail.”

Statistically, GVA estimated that the Sainsbury's proposals would divert circa £1.25million of convenience goods trade from town centre retailers representing an impact of 22 per cent and circa £3.75million from the out of centre Co-op, representing an impact of 52 per cent. It estimated the smaller Waitrose would divert circa £0.8million from Malmesbury town centre, representing an impact of 14 per cent, and circa £2.54million from the Co-op, representing an impact of 33 per cent.

Nicola Beech, a spokesman for Sainsbury, said: “The GVA report focuses on one aspect of planning.

“On balance, we believe Malmesbury garden centre is the best location for a new store because it is on a brownfield site, not a green field, it’s already used for retail, is allocated in the development plan and can accommodate a store that will help to meet the needs of Malmesbury shoppers encouraging them to do more shopping in the town.”