THE DECISION by Storrington and Sullington Parish Council to approve in principle the extension to Waitrose under DC/11/2334 flew in the face of councillors’ own reservations about the plans as well as those of residents.
For the parish council unanimously (one councillor abstained having declared an interest and there were two apologies for absence) then to have voted in favour appears to be a travesty of the democratic process by which local councils exist: namely to reflect the views of their communities.
The observation that the area to be covered by the proposed development would be little larger than the area covered by the existing store and other businesses to be absorbed into it is to ignore the more important point which is that the supermarket would monopolise the retail mix as a dominant presence. It would do nothing to encourage independent businesses on whose product range their own extended ‘offer’ would encroach.
In fact, several independent traders surrounding the site will be affected adversely by the design and extent of the car park and the entrance to the building will direct shoppers away from their shops. This is in addition to disruption caused to the village retail environment as a whole by the construction process.
Existing facilities for public transport users will be compromised by their being resited and the possibility of buses waiting in the High Street is out of the question on the grounds of pollution, congestion and the amenity of shopkeepers, shoppers and transport users.
Finally, speaking to residents from a wide social mix over the past weeks, I am only too aware of those who do not shop at Waitrose, not only because they cannot afford to do so but because they recognise that it is a store that trades on an upmarket image that they find alienating.
Price-matching and the promise of cheaper ranges do nothing to impress them and are unlikely to persuade them to shop in Storrington. Unfortunately, many of these people feel that their views have no influence on decisions made ostensibly on their behalf.
Residents of Storrington should all be aware that this issue stands to create a division in the community dependent upon income and demographic status.
It is to be hoped that Horsham District Council will view this application in the light of the weight and substance of the evidence presented in opposition to it.
Browns Lane, Storrington