Storrington Waitrose delay raises pollution trial concern

JPCT-16-08-11 SC11330314a Storrington, waitrose -photo by steve cobb ENGSNL00120110816145517
JPCT-16-08-11 SC11330314a Storrington, waitrose -photo by steve cobb ENGSNL00120110816145517

As the council installs traffic cameras to monitor air pollution levels in Storrington, a Waitrose representative confirms that the village’s supermarket expansion will be delayed until 2016.

Local residents have contacted the County Times to ask why West Sussex County Council’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) trial will be conducted before the opening of Waitrose’s expansion, which they claim could add to the traffic flow.

In response to these claims, a representative at Waitrose said that although it recognises the delay will ‘cause some disappointment’ the design process and a capital expenditure review has delayed the construction date until early 2015 with a view to opening its doors to the public by 2016.

A Waitrose spokesperson told the County Times: “We are currently undertaking a significant amount of pre-start work on the proposals and reviewing our delivery plan. We hope to finalise this work in the coming weeks. Our aim though is to start on site early next year in order to complete the redevelopment in 2016.

“The natural course of the design process together with a review of our capital expenditure meant we were unable to start sooner. It was important that we took time to work with the council and local residents to evolve our initial design and ensure our plans will complement the village.

“We are grateful to everyone who provided feedback and help us shape the final design.

“We realise the wait has caused some disappointment, however we remain firmly committed to making a major investment in redeveloping our store which will deliver new jobs, improved parking and provide shoppers with the latest Waitrose offer to play our part in attracting shoppers to Storrington.”

The 12-month LEZ trial is being carried out by Siemens and will began at the end of May. Four ‘Automatic Number Plate Recognition’ cameras are positioned at locations on Pulborough Road, Amberley Road, Washington Road and School Hill. The cameras will count and categorise vehicles by size (e.g. cars, buses, trucks) and identify their emission levels by looking at the vehicle registration dates.

Although Waitrose hopes to attract new shoppers into the area, county councillor for Storrington, Philip Circus, said that research shows doubling the size of a supermarket will not necessarily double its custom.

He said: “Our trial is like taking a photograph in the sense it can only record the situation whilst the trial is being undertaken. Things will change because they always do. For example, if we were to lose the Water Lane appeal to the Planning Inspector we would have some more houses in the Storrington area.

“A trial can only record the situation during the trial and there will always be subsequent developments that might have modified the results, but on that basis we wouldn’t move forward at all.”

A plan to build 75 homes in Storrington was refuced approval by Horsham District Council in January this year, but developers Crest Homes lodged an appealed against the decision in April. The appeal is yet to be decided by the Planning Inspectorate.

“As far as the Waitrose development itself is concerned, when we considered the application at Horsham we concluded that most of any extra traffic would not exacerbate the problem roads from an air quality point of view in Storrington. In particular, it would not significantly affect through traffic through the village which is the main problem in terms of air quality.

“Also, it is not the case that if you double the size of a supermarket you double the number of customers. Research indicates that is not the case and in practice existing customers will spend longer in the store, although there will be some additional customers who will be attracted to the larger store.

“All of which means that I do not think the Waitrose issue is any reason to delay the air quality trial. I know from experience that if you want a reason for not doing something, it is not difficult to conjure up a reason. However I, for one, am more interested in moving forward because if we listened to arguments of this sort we might as well give up on the issue altogether.”