IT’S official – Sainsbury’s is coming to Cardigan. And work on the town’s new hospital can go ahead.

Sainsbury’s describe the Cardigan store as their "flagship site for west Wales". There will be between 200 and 250 full and part time jobs for local people by the time it opens in the spring of 2011.

The store and the hospital share the major part of the £50million Bath-house development.

Developers Liberty Mercian confirmed the completion of the deal with the foodstore this week .

Work on the link road from Gwbert Road to the site is due to start in January and is expected to take 42 weeks to complete.

The site for the town’s new hospital should be ready for construction to begin by August 2010.

Liberty Properties director Emyr Williams told the Tivy-Side: "I am delighted to announce this news. We have had six years of hard toil to bring the Bath-house scheme through. "Some developers would have given up on the way but we have had the tenacity to carry on because we believe this scheme will deliver great benefits to Cardigan."

Vicky Shaw, Sainsbury’s development surveyor said: "As well as creating job opportunities for local people we believe that a Sainsbury’s on this site will help retain expenditure within the town centre. Our experience suggests that the increased retail activity so close to the town centre will bring economic benefits to many of the town’s small traders."

An exhibition of the store’s plans will be held in the town in the coming months. The non-food retail outlets at Bath-house have not yet been signed up.

Hywel Dda Health Board chairman Chris Martin welcomed the news. He said: "We can reconfirm our continued commitment to the Cardigan Integrated Health and Social Care Project.

"The aim is to establish a purpose built facility, which will provide a new model of care that is flexible, responsive, and allows the greatest degree of independence for people living in and around Cardigan. This will include a Community Resource Centre to support the delivery of primary, community and social care services and improve local access; a 24-hour rapid response service; clinics; and in-patient beds for rehabilitation, palliative care, respite and continuing care."

He added that the health board is currently finalising the Strategic Outline Case for funding of the project, which will be submitted to the Welsh Assembly Government towards the end of this year.

Elin Jones AM said: "I welcome the fact that there appears to be progress at last on the main Bathhouse development. Sainsbury's is a major purchaser of lamb and other Welsh produce and I hope that, once opened, the Cardigan store will reflect the range of foods available locally.

"This is also an important announcement in terms of the hospital and I hope that work commences as soon as possible so that the project isn't caught up in the reductions in capital funding which the NHS will face over the coming years as a result of the cutbacks imposed by the UK Treasury".

Cardigan Mayor, Cllr Mark Cole said: "After years of waiting it is good news to have confirmation that the supermarket is now signed up and work can begin. Having a new national supermarket name in the town will encourage greater competition and the additional employment will be a significant boost. I hope the promised numbers will be realised.

"Also, as far as the wider development is concerned, the hospital element is probably the most important of all and hopefully that development can now move forward quickly."

Chamber of Commerce chairman Paul Oakley said: "This is good news at last. It is good to have this in place finally and to get the scheme under way. We do have concerns about some of the construction traffic which will affect the town and that is something we will have to monitor."

*More than 20 new jobs at extra-care housing scheme – see page 3