A John Lewis and a new Waitrose store will be a ‘big coup for Horsham’ according to councillors as they approved an application for two new town centre retail units.
Horsham District Council’s Development Control North Committee approved an application for two new stores off Albion Way earlier tonight (Tuesday January 21).
Westrock’s application is part of a £35m redevelopment of the ‘West End’ of the town centre on the sites of Lifestyle Ford and Horsham Bowling Club.
Laurence Deakins (Con, Denne) said: “I think it’s a fantastic application. It’s really good for the town.
“I think it’s a big coup for the town as they have not got one [John Lewis At Home] in Guildford or Brighton.”
Robin Barton, development director at Westrock added: “It’s a game changer for Horsham as a retail centre.”
He continued: “In short it’s a chance to make a major difference to give Horsham the retail reputation it deserves.”
John Lewis is expected to create 125 new jobs, while Waitrose will relocate its 120 staff from Piries Place and add an extra 50 jobs.
Mike Newton, a development surveyor for Waitrose, told councillors there was only one location in the UK currently with a Waitrose and John Lewis At Home store side-by-side.
Both Helena Croft (Con, Roffey North) and Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater) hoped the new stores would increase footfall through the entire town centre to benefit current businesses, while John Chidlow (Con, Southwater) described the arrival of John Lewis as a ‘real feather in the cap’ for Horsham.
While most members were in favour of the scheme, a few councillors raised potential traffic problems in Albion Way, Guildford Road, and the Bishopric.
In particular Christine Costin (LDem, Trafalgar) whilst welcoming the arrival of John Lewis, expressed reservations about elongating the town centre offering, and the impact on current traffic problems in the Bishopric.
Under proposals Lifestyle Ford is to move to a site off the Farthings Hill Roundabout in Broadbridge Heath, while Horsham Bowling Club is relocating to Holbrook Tythe Barn.
After the meeting Mr Barton said they hoped to start construction by May or June this year, while they aimed to have the stores opened by April 2015.
For more on plans see this Thursday’s County Times.
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