Horsham District Council has unanimously approved the expansion of the Storrington Waitrose supermarket.
The decision will delight supporters of the scheme who believe a state of the art Waitrose supermarket will help underpin the economy of the whole downland region.
But the Save Our Storrington campaign group said the decision was ‘disappointing’.
The part demolition of the existing supermarket and new build will be more than double the current size increasing it to 3,221 square metres and will create an in-store coffee shop, two-level car park, and up to 80 new jobs in the village.
Campaigners left the meeting of the development control meeting on Tuesday saying they were ‘surprised’ by the decision, citing fears the new development would increase traffic and pollution, as well as negatively impact independent businesses in Storrington.
But for the district councillors who made the decision, the planning approval was simply ‘good news’ for the area.
Philip Circus (Con, Chanctonbury) said: “It will enable people to shop at Waitrose and to sample the other independent retailers in the village.”
Roger Arthur (Con, Chanctonbury) declared that it will give Storrington’s economy a much needed leverage.
He said: “It boosts a high level of employment. We need to do what we can to maintain a vibrant economy. It would not only increase employment but customers for local businesses .”
Waitrose had made recent changes to its planning application which included widening the gap between the car park and Havant House, reducing the size of the staff entrance and saving a much loved cedar tree.
The applicant Ian Anderson reassured councillors that Waitrose had taken everything into consideration.
But SOS member, Jenny Powell disagreed, believing many important issues were not addressed at the meeting.
Intent on keeping a ‘dignified opposition’ to the decision, she explained: “The adjustments are cosmetic, they do not deal with the problems we put forward.”
Ms Powell found the council’s go ahead ‘a bit irresponsible’ with the issues of traffic and air quality not resolved to her satisfaction.
Another SOS member, Phil Tapsfield, agreed and was ‘surprised’ that the council did not take more notice of the ‘strong local feelings’ expressed against the application.
“We believe this development will inevitably bring more traffic into the village, leading to an increase in air pollution,” said Mr Tapsfield.
In Tuesday’s meeting, Sue Rogers (Con, Steyning) addressed the issue of pollution and felt satisfied with the efforts made. Mrs Rogers said: “I’ve been working closely with the environmental officers and I’m impressed by their level of expertise.”
A resident supporter of the application said that the extension is a ‘golden opportunity’ to revitalise a ‘scruffy’ town centre. He explained: “This proposal is about the future of Storrington, not a return to a mythical past.”
Meanwhile the decision was met with ‘delight’ by Storrington and Sullington Parish Council. (see above)