ALTHOUGH the parish council gave its approval in principle to the Waitrose application for Storrington, it was clear that councillors had more reservations than the Plains tribes of North America.
Not only did they worry about the development’s ugly, overbearing appearance and the inappropriate materials from which it would be constructed, they were also deeply concerned about the effect the proposed two-storey car park would have on the village.
This would raise the ground level to the point at which some local traders would have their shop frontages – their trading identities – obliterated from public view. Don’t these long-term investors in our village deserve better? Several councillors feared that the car park’s underground level would offer an opportunity for anti-social behaviour, while at least one was against its lights being so high from the ground.
Regrettably, though, while expressing concern about Storrington’s traffic problems, the parish council seems to be ignoring the fact that this application would bring an inevitable and damaging influx of extra vehicles into the village.
Traffic is perhaps the major concern of village residents: the anti-traffic petition has now gathered an incredible 1,200 signatures, equivalent to about 25 per cent of the adult population (the petition specifically opposing the Waitrose application gained 800 in just over a month).
As a body that was ‘elected unchallenged’ (ie, is unelected), the parish council has a clear duty to reflect accurately the views of the electorate when that view is so clearly expressed. The mood of the hundred people at the meeting was overwhelmingly against the application.
Councillors must now be vigilant and demanding. If this application progresses they will have to do more than express reservations.
Holding Waitrose, its developers and the district and county councils to account will require attention to detail, courage, sticking power – and the support of the whole village.
Of course, none of this would be necessary if Waitrose would only rediscover its belief in community values and stop trying to inflict this town-sized store on our Downland village.
Water Lane, Storrington