Waitrose ‘has made shopping a pleasure’

I READ with interest the letter from Sandra Miller in your edition of September 8 and I feel that I must respond to the lack of reality that she shows.

Waitrose is the most attractive store in the Old Mill Precinct and it has made shopping in Storrington a distinct pleasure. By simply demanding rejection of any expansion plans, this lady shows that she doesn’t understand either the fact that the planners would have great difficultly rejecting what is fundamentally redevelopment of already existing retail buildings or that Waitrose made it clear, in responses at their exhibition, that they need this minimum size of store to be viable and keep properly supplied.

So what are the options based on the facts?

1. Ms Miller’s choice appears to be to keep things exactly as they are! This leaves us with an increasingly tatty 1960s precinct, a half-closed semi redundant garage, a shabby bus stop area and a horrible little back alley. How many years before Ms Miller would do something to improve these things one wonders or before it all looks like the empty Wine Rack store?

She also thinks that somehow by now allowing Waitrose to expand this automatically guarantees the survival of all the other village shops regardless of how well run they are. She clearly also hasn’t heard that along with Internet shopping, the biggest threat to retailers is out of town shopping, yet she is opposing a scheme from the company that wants to be right in the heart of our village!

2. Waitrose could sell the land to a commercial developer. This developer then redevelops the existing garage site alone and probably leaves Mill Square precinct untouched. There is no guarantee that they would find tenants for the new shops and Old Mill Square would remain to deteriorate. This sounds like a very risky option and one not really helping enhance the centre of our village.

3. We accept the redevelopment ideas submitted by Waitrose since they will modernise the decaying buildings, revamp Old Mill Square, provide much needed public toilets and guarantee in the centre of our village viable and long lasting retail strength.

Clearly if we have successful village centre shopping we have more cars. If we want to lower the number of cars then we need simply to have less attractive shopping on offer and send customers elsewhere just hoping that our retailers stay in business. Our problem in Storrington is not local traffic but the long distance lorries, coaches and taxis I see going past my door every day.

Perhaps if more people wrote about that rather than simply deciding for us all that they don’t want a bigger store, they might serve our community better! And yes, I would love to have an open area right in the centre of our busy village where I can sit down and take a break from looking at cars, so I fully support the plan to close off the end of Old Mill Drive and allow me to walk from the library to Old Mill Square in the traffic free environment – what a delightful idea!

MARY JONES (Mrs)

Amberley Road, Storrington