PROPOSALS to build more shops in Aldershot town centre have cleared the first hurdle.

Rushmoor Council has decided that the redevelopment of part of the High Street is a last chance to attract large stores to the town.

During a public consultation some people expressed fears that the proposed new shops would lie empty and become an eyesore.

But the council cabinet has been told by London agents Drivers Jonas that several big retailers want to come to Aldershot.

Coun Roland Dibbs, environment cabinet member, said: "I understand the concern about building more shops that could lie vacant in the town centre.

"But Aldershot does not have any suitable sites for larger stores, and this could be the last opportunity to make provision for such a development."

He added that the stores would be built only if a retailer has agreed to move in.

The shops are earmarked for one side of the High Street, taking in the ABC cinema and Gala bingo hall, the King's Centre, the former petrol station and possibly Prince's Gardens car park.

Discussions will start soon with the owners of the sites about the way forward.

A new building for the King's Centre may be included in the redevelopment, along with some homes.

The cinema and bingo hall are due to be replaced by similar facilities on the West Gate site off Wellington Avenue.