The community of Storrington and Sullington has been sorely tested over the past year following the unveiling of the extent of Waitrose’s ambitions for the village of Storrington.
Despite hundreds of signatures to a petition and representations to Horsham District Council vigorously opposing the proposed enlargement of the store, Waitrose has delivered revised plans that do little more than alter cosmetically their original application.
In addition, many of the inaccuracies of the earlier submission remain uncorrected and extraordinary claims that traffic will decrease as a result of the development cannot accurately be measured and verified.
This is no way for a professional body with the weight of finance and expertise behind it to proceed if it wishes to ingratiate itself to a sceptical community. It falls, instead, to representatives of that community meticulously to ferret out the facts behind the rhetoric and assess whether they bear any relation to reality.
Sadly this does not appear to be the case. But let there be no mistake. There will be one winner in this sorry tale, should Waitrose have its plans accepted and that will be Waitrose.
Choice is at the heart of the matter and choice is what is being consistently eroded in villages like Storrington and will continue to be so if Waitrose gets its way. Many of the community do not shop at Waitrose and the shopping precinct is conspicuously devoid of many of the young families who used to frequent its forerunner Somerfield/Co-op.
It has been suggested that the earlier proposal for a smaller Waitrose where the car repair garage now stands would have provided for greater choice with Co-op occupying the precinct. At the very least, it would have avoided the sweep of buildings that could come to dominate Old Mill Drive and would have maintained to some extent the more fragmented and diverse aspect that characterises village vernacular.
However, Storrington cannot deal with the traffic it now has and until detailed evidence is provided to demonstrate how Waitrose arrived at its conclusion that traffic will decrease no Storrington resident who has any care for the community will want to sanction these plans.
Browns Lane, Storrington