SUPERMARKET chain Tesco has confirmed today (Friday September 5) it is to sell the site earmarked for building a new Ilkley store.

The company says it has reviewed its plans in line with a change in customer shopping habits, and expects to put the former Spooner factory site, off Railway Road and Mayfield Road, on the market in the next fortnight.

Strong opposition came from across the community to the plans to build the new store, amid fears it could put small independent traders out of business, and create traffic and other problems on streets around the land itself.

Tesco spokesman, Mark Thomas, said: "We know that this will be disappointing to many people in Ilkley and we're grateful for the support that was shown for our proposals.

"A change in customer shopping habits, with more people shopping online and in convenience stores, led us to review our plans and we have made the difficult decision to sell the site. We will be sure to keep the community updated and our current popular store will continue to provide a great service to Ilkley shoppers."

It is believed the land may be marketed for housing.

Bradford District councillors were contacted by the firmon Friday with the news.

Bradford councillor, Martin Smith (Con, Ilkley): said: "I'm chuffed, absolutely chuffed. If you talk to the community first, you get the right solution."

The scheme included included the redevelopment of Tesco's existing store site on Springs Lane, as a residential home and business premises.

Coun Smith quizzed Mr Thomas, about the future intentions for the vacant land, and asked if the company would consider upgrading its Springs Lane supermarket and create more parking space.

Coun Smith is also among a growing number of people who have been asking about the temporary use of the Railway Road site to provide additional car parking in Ilkley.

The call for a new temporary car park, and provision of a multi-storey car park for the town centre long term, was also heard at an Ilkley Parish Council meeting on Monday (September 1).

Another ward councillor, Mike Gibbons (Con, Ilkley), who also received the call from Tesco on Friday, raised the issue of using the site for a car park - but was told it was to be placed on the open market.

He welcomed the announcement.

"I did tell him there wouldn't be many tears shed at the decision," said Coun Gibbons.

He was told the plan is to continue with operations at the existing store.

The move comes after Tesco recently admitted it had been hit by a downturn, and was looking at building houses on other sites - particularly in the South East - which had been earmarked for new stores.

Tesco said at the time it was still looking at building the new store in Ilkley.

The new store plans in Ilkley were approved as the result of a public inquiry in 2010, having initially been turned down by Bradford Council. Planning permission was renewed by the local authority last year.