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Council’s support for Storrington Waitrose expansion

Plans to expand Waitrose’s Storrington store have been backed by Storrington and Sullington Parish Council.

Seventy-eight members of the public this week attended a parish council meeting to discuss the issue. Five spoke against the proposal, but a representative of the company explained the scheme and parish councillors agreed to support it in principle. The revised plans of Waitrose and developer Kiafeld include a “more active” frontage on the Old Mill Drive and Old Mill Square corner, changes to the design, extra landscaping and the provision of low-emission community buses.

Parish councillors took into account comments submitted by Horsham District Council’s conservation officer and the district’s public health and licensing department, who had both indicated they were satisfied with the amended proposals. They also noted West Sussex County Council’s acceptance of a traffic assessment submitted as part of the application.

Cllr Anna Worthington-Leese, chairman of the parish council, said “The parish council is made up of a group of unpaid volunteers who are committed to working for the benefit of the whole community. It would be remiss and foolish of the council to ignore the comments submitted by these professionals in their fields – the statutory consultees whose views will be taken into account by Horsham District Council.

“While the parish council supports the principle of these proposals, there are still a number of concerns regarding the detail of the application, not least the impact upon our existing trade both during and after construction. The parish council is committed to working together with our local businesses and with Waitrose in an attempt to mitigate any problems that may occur.

“We were also unanimous in agreeing that it is important to have a proper entrance onto Old Mill Drive to encourage shoppers to visit the rest of the village.

“A number of opposers to the application have concerns regarding the impact on traffic. But the fact is that our village has experienced problems for many years and will continue to do so whether Waitrose expands its store or not. The key task for us is to continue our work with the relevant authorities to deal with the traffic issues.

“We are in the process of drawing up an air-quality action plan in conjunction with Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council and this should hopefully be available for public consultation in November. However, I do wholeheartedly agree that a condition should be imposed, if permission is granted, requiring additional funding from Waitrose for air-quality measures if traffic does increase.”

Waitrose branch manager Tom North said: “We want to create an attractive store at the heart of Storrington which enables us to provide a store and car park that can meet demand and play a positive role in maintaining a healthy village centre. The changes address the key concerns raised about the design of our proposals, particularly by ensuring that the elevation along Old Mill Drive is far more in keeping with the existing environment.”

Storrington and Sullington Parish Council is submitting its views to Horsham District Council, which will make the decision.

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