Campaigners against Tesco’s plans for an Express store in Brighton Road, Horsham, have said they are keen to ‘openly protest’ to raise awareness of road safety concerns at the site.
More than 70 people attended a meeting at Horsham Rugby Club on Monday to discuss Tesco’s plans for the shop on the junction with St Leonard’s Road, formerly home to the Silver Wok, which has moved to Queen Street.
Organiser Mike Dancy said: “Attendance at the meeting, which was seen as a measure of support, saw campaigners number rise to over 90 excluding those known to follow it on social media sites.
“To date the campaign activity had been limited to raising awareness with a local letter drop to 750 local residences but this meeting signified a major move forward.
“Most people who attended the meeting are united in the view that the Tesco Express store in this location is not wanted. It was neither asked for or is necessary since local shops already exist, although their quality was questioned.
“The store will be out of character and is expected to have a negative effect on the environment due to additional noise, light pollution, potential increase in anti-social behaviour and litter dropping let alone traffic.”
People came forward with offers to help form a working party to further the cause. Mr Dancy added: “Significant issues for an escalation of activity include more campaigners’ letters to Tesco, County Highways and especially to their local councillors to engage them with their concerns.
“The working party will communicate with other groups around the country who also have this problem and concentrate on the safety aspects of the traffic issue.
“Some campaigners were keen to openly protest, as elsewhere, to raise awareness to motorists and to a higher level media level.”
But Tesco has told the County Times this week that its plans for a new Express store in Horsham are receiving a positive response.
Beth Green,house corporate affairs manager at Tesco, said: “We’ve been encouraged by the number of residents who have written to welcome our plans. They tell us they are looking forward to having a modern store on their door step with the choice of a good range of fresh groceries and essential products.
“Our new store will create approximately 20 full time and part time jobs for local people, offering industry-leading pay and benefits and opportunities for colleagues to progress within our business.
“We’re keen to hear from local residents and will be holding a drop-in session in April so that residents can share their comments and input into the design of their new store.”
Tesco does not need full planning permission to change the use of the former St Leonard’s Arms site into a shop, but will be submitting an application to Horsham District Council for minor works.
The international company, which recently bought the restaurant chain Giraffe, plans to have its new Horsham shop open by the autumn.
Anyone who would like further information about the campaign can email firstname.lastname@example.org