Opponents of Waitrose’s plan to expand its Storrington store have understandably focused on fears such as increased traffic, negative effects on air quality and the out-of-scale proportions of the proposed construction.
But there are other serious concerns. For example, Waitrose intends its articulated delivery vehicles to come into the village along Thakeham Road/School Hill, turn right into Fryern Road then left into Mill Lane (which runs into Old Mill Drive and Waitrose’s proposed deliveries yard).
It would be difficult for such substantial vehicles to turn into Fryern Road without mounting the pavement.
This road has a width of only 20.5 feet, hardly enough for large HGVs to move along with comfort and safety.
Parked cars and oncoming traffic would present considerable obstacles and hazards. And the left turn into Mill Lane is a very tight one, with the road going back on itself.
Mill Lane, in fact, is only 18.5 feet wide. Even buses have to overhang the centre of the road.
Waitrose tells us that all will be fine, that tankers used to take this route when making fuel deliveries to Storrington Auto Repairs five years ago, before the garage shut down its pumps.
But even if we stretch a point and assume it was acceptable then for tankers to follow this narrow, winding route, there were only ever two deliveries per week – and some drivers preferred to approach the garage from the High Street end of Old Mill Drive.
How many of Waitrose’s 54-feet long articulated HGVs would it take to keep this expanded store fully stocked?
How many other delivery vehicles would use this route?
With Old Mill Drive also designated to provide an entrance to the proposed new car park, the potential strains and threats to safety on this part of the village are all too obvious.
And having dropped off their loads, these vehicles would have to make their exit by the same tortuous route.
This is yet another example of the wishful thinking and finger-crossing that characterise this oppressive application.
It doesn’t have to be like this. If only Waitrose would face reality and revise its plans properly - instead of indulging in ineffectual, gesture-driven tinkering - I believe the great majority of Storrington’s residents would support and welcome a limited, village-scale expansion into the two next-door shop premises.
Everybody could win. But will Waitrose listen?
Water Lane, Storrington