The site of a proposed Sainsbury’s in a town has been approved by officials - to the dismay of campaigners opposing the plans.

The former car park site in Church Hill, Loughton, has been earmarked for a supermarket beneath four two-bedroom flats and two one-bedroom flats.

The supermarket chain already has two larger supermarkets within a mile of the site and Loughton Town Council has objected to the plan.

However, Essex County Council highways officers backed plans from Constable Homes Ltd, with proposed access to the site being shared with the neighbouring Esso petrol station.

Campaigners are unhappy the recommendation takes traffic flow estimates for the site from 2007 when it was still used as a car park.

The county council recommendation said: “ The egress of the delivery vehicle does conflict with the Esso entrance, but is not unsafe as delivery drivers will only pull out of the development when they have sufficient time and space to do so.”

It continued: “Customer vehicle movements in and out of the site would be no different to the previous use as a car park.

“It is not envisaged that the proposal will attract many additional vehicle movements along Church Hill, as it will mainly cater for drive-by customers.”

The proposals include car parking for seven residents and nine customers, some of which campaigners believe will be taken up by the six full-time and 19 part-time staff.

Campaign group Residents Against The Third Sainsbury’s (RATTS) fear traffic projections are not accurate and the area could become congested.

Member David Wilding said:"This recommendation is predicated upon a complete falsehood and is at best unresearched.

"It is based on traffic flow from seven years ago when the car park was still open.

"It is also concerning that customers and delivery lorries will be using the same entrance as cars accessing the petrol station."

Essex County Council has been approached for comment.