Expansion causes concern

THE EXPANSION of Waitrose in Storrington is causing concern for many residents.

As previously reported in the County Times both many business owners and residents do not think the expansion of the Old Mill Square store, from 8,000 square feet to 21,380 square feet, is appropriate for the size of the village.

Many of the residents have expressed strong objections to the plans, stating many of the same issues. There is growing apprehension over an increase in traffic, problems with car parking, and also a fear that the store will kill off the remaining independent traders in the High Street.

Peter Westrip, Nightingale Close, Storrington said: “It will totally destroy the village feel.”

Ken Collins, Thakeham Road said: “My objection is to the increase in traffic, it is already a problem in the village. We measure the pollution here and it is already over the recommended limit so more traffic will not help matters.”

Most feel that there is no need for the larger store and that is it just Waitrose looking at profits.

The plans will also see a new two storey car park being erected and one end of Old Mill Drive is to be closed off to traffic meaning that some businesses will find it harder to attract new customers.

Robin Duke owner of Gatleys on Mill Drive said: “Gatleys has been here for 90 years and if they close the road we will no longer get any passing trade.

“I don’t see why they can’t take over the opticians and wine shop, offering the opticians the old betting shop and move into there.”

Mrs Christine Butcher, Rectory Lane said: “If they close Mill Lane people will have to go up and around to get to the High Street. Traffic in the village is stop start at the best of times, this will make things worse.”

Many have said that they are annoyed that Waitrose have not contacted those that will be affected by the expansion. One resident of Mill Drive said that the car park will practically be in her back garden and that she knew nothing of the public exhibition.

Retailers fear that disruption from the development work, which could last up to 18 months, will drive customers away as getting into the village will become a massive problem and parking will be reduced.

The Parish Council has spoken about the need to hold a public meeting with Waitrose and developers Kiafield where questions can be put to them and they could notify attendees of their plans. The date for this meeting is still to be confirmed.

At a recent meeting parish councillors were also made aware that Waitrose have yet to submit a planning application for the site.

Waitrose are to release a statement to address these concerns next week, buy next week’s County Times to find out what they say.