THE team behind a new Highworth supermarket pledged to support a town park and offset environmental losses caused by the shop's construction.

An eco expert working with Aldi spoke to councillors about the retailer offering help to the volunteers who run Pentylands Country Park as a way of making up for loss of grassland on the shop's site.

Ecologist Julian Arthur said: "At the Aldi site, there's some relatively mature plantation and woodland as well as grassland that has some value. It isn't particularly important to wildlife.

"My colleague spoke to Coun Ken Saunders about the park and there are opportunities there to deliver what Aldi needs and deliver something that the park needs as well.

"There's rough grass and field in the park and Aldi could contribute financially towards its restoration into something more ecologically interesting, like wildflower grassland and tree-planting.

"Aldi would also be happy to set up an interpretation board for the park to demonstrate what's being achieved there and educate people. They're really keen on the environmental and community benefits this would bring."

Councillors welcomed the idea but cautioned against agreeing to it straight away because other areas of the town could do with a bit of environmental expertise.

Coun Pauline Webster said: "What happened to the other suggestions that were made by councillors?

"It seems like you've already made your mind up after a private meeting when this should have come back before any decisions were made so that all councillors could have input."

Mr Arthur added: "Some of the ideas weren't likely to deliver what Aldi needed and meet their requirements. The park seemed like a good option and had the most potential.

"Restoration of grassland in Pentylands Farm had potential because that's what we're losing and it makes for a nice balancing act to create some. Plus, it's more straightforward than other options.

"Wildflower grass verges are possible but depend on how many there are, trees along Swindon Street would not deliver what Aldi needs because you'd need a lot and they would take a long time to create.

"We are still exploring ideas and no decisions have been made."

The new Aldi near the Blackworth Industrial Estate is expected to be built in early 2020 after being stuck in the planning process for more than a year.

Hundreds signed a petition supporting the new supermarket branch and persuaded the borough to give it the go-ahead.

The Midcounties Co-operative, which owns Highworth's only supermarket, objected to the approval but its appeal failed.