COUNTY NEWS: Supermarket plans stalled for West Sussex town

Artists impression of the planned Waitrose store next to the Grange centre in Midhurst

Artists impression of the planned Waitrose store next to the Grange centre in Midhurst

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Following a successful move and launch of their store in Horsham, Waitrose’s plans for a new supermarket in Midhurst have stalled after the company pulled out of its original deal to build in the Grange car park.

Waitrose says due to ‘trading conditions’ in the supermarket sector it has had to work with its partner Kimberley Developments on a ‘revised offer’ to owners of the land Chichester District Council (CDC).

In January CDC gave Waitrose and Kimberley Developments ‘first refusal’ in a deal which was set to see an 18,000 square foot store opened in the autumn of 2016.

But now they have gone back to the drawing board and it could pave the way for a supermarket war with a second developer coming back into the frame with another ‘major supermarket’ for the site.

A Waitrose spokesman said: “Our aspiration to deliver a quality food store for Midhurst, which will provide the very latest Waitrose offer as well as creating new jobs, remains.

“However, the supermarket sector is undergoing well documented changes in trading conditions and it has been necessary for developer, Kimberley, to submit a revised offer. We understand the continued delay may cause some disappointment, but we must respond to these changes to ensure the scheme has a commercial future which will enable us to make a positive contribution to the town.”

The supermarket sector is undergoing well documented changes in trading conditions and it has been necessary for developer, Kimberley, to submit a revised offer

District councillor Gordon McAra told fellow town councillors CDC was now re-negotiating the sale of the land, but it was unlikely any new proposals would be the same scale as the original Waitrose. “The district council won’t get nearly as much money for the site as it might have got.”

A CDC spokesman said: “We are still in contract with Kimberley Developments, who have been working with Waitrose. Recent changes in the food store market have meant this agreement has not been as straight forward as hoped. We are still committed to selling the land to a developer who will bring forward plans for a food store in Midhurst.”

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