BOSSES at F H Dale's Leominster factory hope they have overcome a major stumbling block in their bid to build a DIY superstore and garden centre.

The firm has had talks with the Environment Agency to pave the way for their proposed Focus store at Mill Street with an estimated £2.6 million turnover.

The agency objected, late in 2001, to a similar plan at the riverside site opposite Dale's factory because of 'flood risks'. The scheme - which drew a number of other objections - was withdrawn.

The company has now lodged a new application for a 27,000sq.ft store with 135 car parking spaces.

Dales said this week that it had sought advice from the Environment Agency and it believed changes to the plan could now satisfy the agency's concerns.

The company's plans show that the proposed store, previously earmarked for a site within 10 metres of the Kenwater, has been repositioned further away. A landscaped buffer zone of trees and shrubs between the river and the development would form part of a 'sustainable drainage system.'

Dales commercial director Andrew MacWhirter said other changes to the plan included a two-metre reduction in the store's height, footpath links and a new site layout which retains views of the Priory Church from Mill Street.

Critics of the last plan expressed fears over its potential 'negative impact' on the town centre.

But Dales claim the store will bring something new to Leominster and 'prevent DIY expenditure from leaking to Hereford and other towns'.

Re-siting of the store in the new plan means that the pavilion/storage building by Dale's cricket field would have to be demolished but a new pavilion would be provided elsewhere on the field.

A spokesman for Herefordshire Council planning department said the application would be considered by the northern area planning committee next month 'at the earliest'.