In an article in the County Times on April 26, page 30, the John Lewis Partnership confirmed it intended to use the Waitrose store in Storrington, and other stores, as an online shopping hub for Sussex.
I sent a letter of concern, which was publicised in the CT edition dated May 3, that Waitrose. was deceiving Storrington residents and Storrington Parish Council on this issue, as the plan for the proposed store showed a dedicated area of 1,000 sq ft for ‘e-commerce’. Any use of the store for ‘Click-and-Collect’ for John Lewis items will dramatically increase the traffic to the proposed store, as people would travel in, purely to use this ‘service’.
In a reply, published on May 10 a Waitrose representative, James Armstrong, property and development communications manager, replied: ‘We have absolutely no intention of doing this either from our current store or as part of our plans which form the submitted application, should it be approved.
Whilst there are Waitrose stores where you can pick up John Lewis orders online, Waitrose Storrington will not be one of them.’
However it has been noted that within the ‘revised’ application, the developers still have an area designated to ‘e-commerce’. In the parish council meeting of last week (October 23) the parish council and in particular councillor Mrs L. Wheatley, picked up this point of ‘on-line’ shopping.
Mark Dawkins, who is the Waitrose property manager, confirmed that this store would not be used as a ‘storage depot’ of on-line purchases, but would be used for ‘Click-and Collect’.
This response obviously demonstrates yet again that within the John Lewis group, ie Waitrose and John Lewis stores, there is a management/co-ordination problem, and that Waitrose really do intend to use the store for this purpose!
I believe that once again the John Lewis group is trying to disguise its true intentions.
I have requested HDC planning department, to obtain clarification on this, as it will just compound all the other written and voiced problems, associated with placing an unsightly superstore in a the centre of a congested Downland village.
I suggest Storrington PC chase up on this.