Outcry at smaller village shop proposed for Thakeham in Abingworth Meadows development

A Shop being built as part of new development in Thakeham (Abingworth Meadows) may be reduced in size, space given over to veterinary practice, cafe and extra flat. Pic Steve Robards SR1900460 SUS-190801-152037001
A Shop being built as part of new development in Thakeham (Abingworth Meadows) may be reduced in size, space given over to veterinary practice, cafe and extra flat. Pic Steve Robards SR1900460 SUS-190801-152037001

Plans to reduce the size of a new village shop for Thakeham in the Abingworth Meadows development has prompted an outcry among residents.

A large mixed use development off Storrington Road was granted planning permission by Horsham District Council in 2013.

As well as investment in the mushroom growing business new homes were approved on the former nursery site alongside community facilities.

As part of the scheme, permission was granted for a building including a retail shop and storage on the ground floor as well as a two-bedroom flat in the main roof area with an office and storage area within part of the roof.

Abingworth Developments now wants to amend these plans to retain a ‘slightly smaller’ shop on the ground floor but with an ancillary cafe and veterinary practice occupying much of the previous ground floor storage area.

The application would also provide an extra new two-bedroom flat.

The developer has argued that since the previous permission was granted marketing of the village shop has established the proposed floor space is too large with excessive storage areas and was ‘not viable given the catchment area and demographics’.

The new application argues: “This application is therefore considered to be a straightforward proposal for modest alterations to the use and alterations of a previously approved building, as part of a wider redevelopment site.”

The council has been bombarded with objections from concerned residents who have labelled the changes ‘preposterous’, ‘another betrayal of local residents’ needs’ and ‘unacceptable’.

One objector wrote: “Yet again, we are being let down by the developers in their promises to deliver punctual and relevant community benefits.”

Another added: “The token shop that is now proposed will not be able to offer what the village needs and what we had been promised.”

A number of objectors suggested a veterinary practice was not needed with several locations nearby, while the reduced footprint of the shop could make it economically unviable meaning residents would have to drive to do their shopping.

A new resident said: “One of the attractions of this development was that it was a planned environment with a village focus rather than an isolated housing estate. Approval of this application would take away the village focus element.”

Even the developer building the new homes, Oakford Homes, has lodged an objection.

In its submission via a planning agent, Oakford argued the applicant ‘has demonstrated a shocking disregard for the needs of the local community’, adding: “The proposed reduction in the floorspace of the village shop will result in a unit that is both unviable as a commercial prospect and incapable of meeting the critical need of the local community for a well-stocked convenience store without which residents will need to drive several kilometres for basic provisions.”

To comment visit www.horsham.gov.uk/planning using code DC/18/2594.