Plans for new Waitrose revealed at public exhibition

Waitrose
Waitrose

A new Waitrose store with 330 free parking places would anchor a major new development in Horsham town centre on land off from Albion Way and the Bishopric.

The plans of what is being dubbed Horsham’s new West End are revealed at an exhibition this Friday and Saturday (see below).

It is proposed two large retail units will occupy a development site off Albion Way, currently the home of Horsham Bowling Club and the car dealership Lifestyle Ford and Mazda.

It is now confirmed Waitrose would occupy a 29,000sq ft building, subject to planning approval, while it remains to be confirmed what ‘non-food retail store’ would occupy the larger 30,000 sq ft unit.

It has been speculated it could be John Lewis at Home. This week a spokesperson from Westrock said: “There have been some rumours locally that John Lewis are interested in the adjacent unit. However, although the John Lewis Partnership are interested in finding a location in Horsham a site has not yet been finalised.”

Waitrose director of development Nigel Keen, said: “We believe this is an exciting opportunity to regenerate the West End of Horsham. The plans we have developed with Westrock will enhance public spaces, provide a new Waitrose food store, new jobs, additional parking and improve Horsham’s retail offer.

“We are looking forward to discussing our proposal with local people and getting their views before we submit a planning application.”

Westrock has been developing a comprehensive regeneration plan for the area covering an extensive site on Albion Way and Bishops Weald House, where frontage will be redesigned to provide new retail units at ground level and a gym fronting the main carriage way through the town.

Albion Way will also be subject to road-level ‘improved pedestrian connectivity’ between the development site and the Bishopric retail area.

Waitrose states more that 50 additional jobs will be created in addition to the 120 members of staff currently employed at Piries Place store which would close under the scheme.

This news has come as a shock to other traders in Piries Place with Jane Hart-Coombes of Rosie Lee & Me saying she could ‘probably lose about 30 per cent of my morning cusomers’, and Mike Burstow of Classic Bags fearing ‘we could be losing anonther nine independents from Horsham’.

Waitrose and Westrock have announced plans to rejuvenate an area at the bottom of West Street, extending into the Bishopric, Albion Way and the development site currently occupied by Horsham Bowling Club and Lifestyle Ford and Mazda.

Under the proposals Horsham Bowling Club would relocate to a site in north Horsham, with a new clubhouse, with the facility for indoor bowling and bowling green - all subject to an additional consultation exercise.

It has been confirmed that Lifestyle Ford and Mazda will be relocating to a purpose built dealership on a prominent site on the A24.

They would be replaced, subject to planning approval, by two large retail units of 29,000 sq ft and 30,000 sq ft (see image opposite), with Waitrose confirmed to move into the smaller of the two which would replace its existing 14,500 sq ft store in Piries Place.

Waitrose has stated it is keen to build on 20 years of trading in Horsham, but that its current store is in need of major new investment.

“The store is no longer suitable to meet current day demands, especially as it does not have a dedicated free car park for shoppers,” said a spokesperson.

“Waitrose will invest in providing a strong, long-term retail anchor of Horsham rather than seeking alternative solutions elsewhere.

“Waitrose has been working with Westrock and Horsham District Council and believe this is an exciting opportunity to provide the latest Waitrose offer.”

The plans for a new Waitrose store in Horsham follow plans for another major new Waitrose store in the district in the village of Storrington being granted planning approval by Horsham District Council last December.

The new Waitrose in Horsham would be served by 330 new parking spaces and create 50 new jobs in addition to the 150 positions the leading super-market chain already employs in the town.

As part of the John Lewis Partnership, Waitrose employees are co-owners in the business, entitling them to a say in how the business is run and a share in the profits, which ensures a high level of commitment and customer service. Waitrose policy is to recruit as locally as possible.

A significant number of other job opportunities will be created by the neighbouring retail unit and those at Bishops Weald House where additional shops and a gym are to be established fronting Albion Way.

The larger of the two new stores on the development site, to be accessed by car and foot from Albion Way, will offer non-food based shopping.

Speculation John Lewis at Home would occupy the site remain unconfirmed this week, with developer Westrock merely stating the John Lewis Partnership remains interested in establishing itself in Horsham, but with location yet to be confirmed.

Westrock has been working in partnership with Horsham District Council on the scheme which has been dubbed the West End development and all aspects of it have been designed with the aspirations and stipulations of the local authority’s town plan in mind.

This includes improved pedestrian connectivity across Albion Way between the new Waitrose location and the town’s Bishopric and West Street shopping locations. This is being referred to as a ‘new public realm’ at the end of West Street.

It is stated that the rejuvenation will bring substantial benefits to shoppers and that the improvements will act as a catalyst for further regeneration for Horsham.

Westrock and Waitrose are consulting local people before submitting a planning application.

Some 10,000 newsletters are being distributed about the plans, asking for feedback and inviting the public to an exhibition on Friday June 7, 10am – 4pm, and Saturday June 8, 10am – 2pm, at 6 Middle Street, Horsham, RH12 1DW (opposite Waterstones).

Waitrose and Westrock will be consulting through June 2013 and intend to submit a planning application in July 2013.

By Theo Cronin | theo.cronin@jpress.co.uk | @theocronin