Things are finally shaping up for the relocation of Southwater Post Office to the nearby Londis store on the Worthing Road.
Following the successful consultation on the relocation in January 2013, the Londis has been going through major buildings works since last October to provide a larger store and site the Post Office within.
To complete the final building works and a full refit, the Londis closed from Monday, March 17 and will reopen on the 4th April with the Post Office opening Monday, April 7.
This relocation follows the decision by David Lawrence, the current sub post master of the Southwater Post office located in Lintot Square, to voluntarily surrender the Post Office on a new programme being offered by the Post Office Ltd.
The Post Office under their network transformation project will transfer half of their network to new Post Office ‘Local’ or ‘Main’ models. This involves delivering Post Office Services over the retail counter in stores and represents a significant change to the way Post Office has previously operated.
The programme centres around the modernisation of the Post Office Services that want to extend their offering to the public over longer trading hours and in case from early morning to late at night, and in line with convenience offering.
The Londis store secured planning permission last year to extend the current store and enable the Post Office is to be sited within the larger and fully redeveloped store. One of the key concerns on the relocation was car parking and the Londis has pointed out that the Cock Inn has generally allowed Londis customer’s sensible short-term use of their car park.
The nearby Southwater Surgery car park also has 21 parking bays for public use. There is also planning permission pending to secure formalised parking outside the Londis including a disabled parking bay.
David Lawrence said: “I am very excited about the relocation of the Post Office to Londis because not only will it enable customers to use Post Office services 7 days a week with extended hours, but it will also allow me to continue trading in my existing shop, with a new trading name selling toys, sweets, stationery, and also adding new products including hardware and household goods.”
The Londis store and its proprietors, Ramesh and Nim Shingadia have been operating their nationally recognised award winning store in Southwater for over 31 years. The store has received several national awards including the prestigious Londis store of the Year 2010.
Ramesh and Nim Shingadia commented:“We have been serving the community in Southwater since 1983. At that time, the Southwater Brickwork chimney was in place and Cedar Drive was a big field.
“We have seen tremendous changes in the village over the time. We see the store and Post office development as the next step change in serving a growing village in the future. We have the next generation that is now engaged in the business to take it forward”.
The store is now being managed by their son, Alpesh Shingadia.
Alpesh Shingadia, 22, commented: “We started the building works in early October and progressed well but had two major challenges over the course of the construction. One was to keep the store open for as long as possible to service our customer. The second was the builder having to work in the heavy winter rains that was persistent and relentless.
“We had other challenges including finding an old well under the floor boards and issues with a very old building, but we are now in the final leg of the construction before the store refit.
“We look to close for just over two weeks to enable the builders to complete his internal works before the store is fully refitted. We hope to open the store on the 4th April, with the Post Office counters operating from 7th April and a grand launch on the 12th April. We will continue with our news delivery service during the closure.”
Alpesh further commented on the relocation of the Post office: “David has excellent staff running the Post Office that will be relocating with the Post Office. We are extending and modernising the store and the house the Post Office nicely within the store.
“With the longer convenience hours that we currently offer, it means that the Post office will be open for service longer and also 7 days a week. This fits in with the new style of the Post Office Local concept and will offer our customers great service.”
Southwater Post Office and the Londis Store are committed to working together and to reassure the all customers that there is no loss of service in the proposed relocation and the eventual transfer of the Post Office will be seamless and positive for Southwater.
Londis Southwater and Post Office are holding a grand celebration on April 12 to celebrate the launch. It includes a fun day with bouncy castle, face painting, raffles and other charity events. Watch out for further details.