PLANS for a new shopping complex are being eagerly awaited by Surrey Heath residents after the preferred developer for land west of Park Street was chosen on June 19.

Nicholson Estates was selected to develop the site, as councillors believed it would seamlessly integrate with existing facilities in Park Street.

Working party chairman Cllr Gordon Parris said there was a convergence of opinion about which scheme was best for the town centre.

Cllr Parris said it was "hopefully third time lucky" for the leisure and retail scheme following the collapse of the THI venture last year.

"I have worked on it since 1987 and am delighted that it has reached this stage and that we have the company we want."

He said opinions from the three political parties, businesses and comments made in a public consultation exercise all pointed towards Nicholson Estates being the ideal partner.

"The best thing is that we are all singing off the same hymn sheet. We have come out with something the majority of people will support."

Indicative plans, which had been on a six-week public display, feature a leisure atrium with a multi-screen cinema, bowling, restaurants and a health and fitness facility.

Eight shops are planned, fronting on to Park Street. The chosen scheme had the fewest shops, but this would help it integrate with existing businesses and the Main Square shopping centre, and still left the capability for an expansion of Main Square, said Cllr Parris.

He was pleased with the 101 homes included in the scheme and believed residents of Southwell Park Road and Southern Road would be happy with this element.

Cllr Parris added that 25% of the planned housing in the complex would be allocated for key workers in the borough.

Surrey Heath Council is also hoping that any traffic from the shopping complex would be directed away from the town centre with direct access to London Road.

He said the borough had asked the county council to look into the highways and traffic issues surrounding that.

"How that's going to work is up to the county and the transportation people and the traffic survey to get the best results.

"It's a win-win situation, but there's still a long way to go."

He believed plans could be submitted as early as the autumn, with building work potentially starting in summer 2003, with an opening date for the centre in 2005.

The Town Centre Working Party will meet every eight weeks to make sure the development is progressing.

He said there "was a strong interest" within Camberley and in Surrey Heath as to how the Park Street plans would take shape.

The councillor added: "We have all been impressed by their work to date with the council and I am sure we will, at long last, be able to realise a worthwhile development, both for the town centre and the borough."