LETTER: Concerns over store project

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Last week Horsham District Council (HDC) received five minor planning applications for the conversion of the old Silver Wok site in Brighton Road, Horsham, to become a Tesco Express Store.

These need to be reviewed independently and comments made to HDC using the planning portal by about May 10. The applications are for an external cash machine, a canopy, shopfront changes, air conditioning/refrigeration plant and illuminated display signs.

As yet, apart from two hastily organised meetings that Tesco may regard as ‘public consultation’, no cohesive plan showing how the store will operate has been formally submitted.

Significant safety issues, such as how the store will facilitate customers by foot, or more likely by car, have yet to be declared.

These would once have been subject to a comprehensive planning application, nowadays this is viewed as a permitted development.

So is it therefore more important to allow the public to comment about a cash machine or canopy than to comment on the appalling pedestrian and traffic situation that is surely going to happen on the junction of St Leonards and Brighton roads!

Residents who are most concerned have made their own plan and monitored the traffic behaviour (see picture). This shows the reality of the location cars and pedestrians will need to negotiate to get to the store.

If you were a passing motorist would you park in there? You may do it once, next time we think you will try and park elsewhere or not even bother at all.

This nonsensical piecemeal out of town development is completely at odds to the vision statement in the Town Development Plan.

It can be subjected to full planning application by HDC if it wishes to support the community. The Secretary of State for Communities, Eric Pickles MP, has challenged HDC to do so if it has the will.

If he or the HDC is satisfied that it is expedient he, or they, may give a direction under The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 Article 4.

Surely if Eric Pickles has indicated his support, and this is what 1,200-plus petitioners want, this is what they should get, after all the only one who may benefit from the store will be Tesco.

The HDC view, reported last week, is that the Article 4 option would be used in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Well consider why a change of use in this location between a restaurant and a convenience store is exceptional.

The site was designed for use as a public house in the late 1950s when the traffic activity, size, speed and volume were considerably less than now.

A pub/restaurant is recreational not retail/commercial.

A store of that magnitude will be out of character and directly challenge the existing local store’s existence.

The hours of opening would suit lunch and dinner, not all day from 6am.

The time a restaurant customer and vehicle would spend on site would be one or two hours not the average eight minutes Tesco has quoted.

The amount of customers accommodated by a restaurant is limited, not so for a store.

The increase in traffic will be enormous since it is estimated 700-plus customers per day will be required to sustain the store.

A restaurant deals only in food/drink for consumption on the premises, the shop will sell anything from milk to motor oil or food for humans or animals all to be taken away, litter as well.

A restaurant doesn’t need a cash machine accessible 24/7 for thieves to raid.

The community in this area did not ask for this store, clearly do not want it, or need more fatalities on their doorstep.

This is supported by West Sussex county councillor Morwen Millson and the issue has been raised with HDC by district councillor Godfrey Newman. Question is, will HDC support them?

MIKE DANCY

stopastore@btopenworld.com, St Leonards Road, Horsham