DEVELOPERS believe they have cleared the way for a block of flats to be demolished as part of the £50-million scheme to reshape Farnborough shopping centre.

Residents at Firgrove Court protested when they first heard of the controversial plan to pull down their homes to make way for a car park at Kingsmead.

They told Pavilion Housing Association, which owns most of the 28 homes, that they wanted to stay put because they enjoyed being near the shops.

But this week it was revealed that a plan has been hatched which would allow the residents to stay together after Firgrove Court was demolished.

They would move to 30 flats earmarked for a site alongside the B & Q superstore being built in Solartron Road.

The flats were included as part of the overall scheme for the former Solartron factory site owned by J. Sainsbury Developments.

Talks between Pavilion and KPI, the town centre developers, about the proposal have reached an advanced stage.

Keith Holland, Rushmoor Council's planning chief, said last Friday: "I understand Pavilion have also discussed the idea with the Firgrove residents.

"The feedback we have received is that in the main people are now more comfortable with the idea of moving out."

He said not only would the tenants be moving into brand new flats, but they would also still be within walking distance of the town.

Mr Holland added that the council would not allow Firgrove to be demolished until the new flats were ready for occupation.

Simon Rutter, KPI spokesman, said: "I am very hopeful that the scheme will go ahead."

The Solartron Road land, he added, would be bought from Sainsbury's as part of the town centre redevelopment.

"We would then pass on the flats to Pavilion," he said. "This will allow the tenants to stay together and still be near the town centre."

Mr Rutter hopes a planning application to build the flats will be presented to the council planners next month.