Independent retailer Jonathan James has warned that the ‘sword of Damocles’ will be hanging over Soham High Street if plans for an out-of-town supermarket are given the go-ahead.

The Cambridgeshire retailer last week pledged to sell his 9,000 sq ft Budgens store to one of two multiples if the out-of-town proposals are rejected on 15 May.

However, he admitted he was not convinced the Harrier Developments application would be thrown out by East Cambridgeshire Council.

“The National Planning Policy Framework states that an out-of-town retail application should fail if there’s a sequentially preferable site, but there are examples where councils have ignored the NPPF and ministers have not called it in,” he said.

By offering to sell his store to one of the big four, James said he hoped to “bring life back to the high street”. He claimed that if the planning application was approved, the two multiples would not be interested in opening in the town centre.

“The offers are conditional and only stand if the plans get rejected,” he added. “If they get approved sadly I’d predict little investment in the high street.”