Another supermarket setback for Midhurst

Artist's impression unveiled in January 2015 of the supermarket Waitrose hoped to build in Midhurst
Artist's impression unveiled in January 2015 of the supermarket Waitrose hoped to build in Midhurst

There has been another setback in plans to bring a new supermarket to Midhurst on the ‘Waitrose’ site.

Chichester district councillor Steve Morley told Midhurst Town Council: “Sadly the preferred bidder to develop the site adjacent to The Grange seems to have pulled out.

“They have been contacted and advised that due to there having been no progress before reaching last week’s deadline for exchange of contract, they no longer have ‘preferred bidder’ status.”

He understood the site would return to the open market in the New Year.

“I will naturally follow all and any developments and report back to council as I am aware of the depth of feeling in the town regarding this site.”

It is the latest of a series of delays which have dogged plans to build a new supermarket on the site of the former Grange which was demolished in April 2014.

After the first bidding process Chichester District Council (CDC) gave Waitrose and Kimberley developments ‘first refusal’ in January 2015 in a deal would have seen an 18,000 square foot store opened this year.

But as the planning process dragged on Waitrose pulled out of its original deal in September 2015 saying due to ‘trading conditions’ it had had to work on a ‘revised offer’ to CDC. However a new deal was never struck and by December there were fears Midhurst might have missed the ‘supermarket boat’.

However earlier this summer CDC issued a new marketing pack and it appears there were at least five bidders although CDC has not publicly said whether these are supermarket or housing developers. CDC opted for further negotiations with bidder ‘E’.

A spokesman for CDC said: “The preferred bidder hasn’t pulled out. Unfortunately the contract exchange date set by the council’s cabinet wasn’t able to be met. Following a cabinet resolution, it was decided the site would be returned to the market . The council welcomes interest from both new parties and those who have previously submitted bids.

“The council remains committed to the disposal of this site. While we are not the planning authority for the site, we are keen to see appropriate development for that location.”

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