PIONEERING plans to give Storrington a state of the art supermarket are continuing to provoke concerns over the possible closure of Old Mill Drive in Storrington.
Waitrose wants to almost treble the size of its store and the developers are looking at pedestrianising the lower end of Old Mill Drive which leads into the High Street as part of the scheme.
The supermarket - part of the John Lewis Partnership - has not yet submitted a formal planning application. It wants to first comprehensively consult with local people so it can develop a plan which will meet as many local aspirations as possible.
But the Old Mill Drive aspect of the project is still provoking widespread concern.
Some of those living in the village are worried that the proposed scheme will mean surrounding roads will become more congested as people look for alternative routes. One resident said: “Storrington could be gridlocked if this road was blocked off.”
Storrington currently has trouble with traffic with up to 17,000 cars passing through it every day as motorists use it as a rat run between the A27 and A29.
Sandra Miller, Water Lane resident, said: “I totally oppose the closure. It would mean that all traffic from the north (Thakeham) and west (West Chiltington) will have to access Storrington from School Hill along Fryern Road, resulting in longer queues at peak times.”
Businesses along Mill Lane feel they will be one of the worst affected as they will no longer get any passing trade. Robin Duke, owner of Gatleys, said: “The effect of closing Old Mill Drive is that existing customers will still come to our shops, but as time passes no new customers will know of our existence and this will ultimately cause the closure of premises in that vicinity.”
Waitrose have said they are keen to make sure that their ‘plans integrate with the high street’.
A spokesperson for Waitrose added: “However, we are entirely opened minded about the proposals for Old Mill Drive and whether it remains open, is closed or is traffic calmed to provide a shared surface for pedestrians and vehicles and will be advised by the council on whether this is something they want to pursue.”
A West Sussex County Council spokeswoman said: “We have been approached directly by the developer for comments on the proposal as part of the informal consultation before the planning application is submitted.
“There are a number of issues which would need to be looked into, including emergency services’ access to the north of the village, capacity of the existing local road network/junctions, and impact on public transport services and the impact on the Air Quality Management area (School Hill).”
As reported in last week’s County Times a meeting was held with the parish council so that the public could put questions to representatives from Waitrose and developers Kiafield.
No formal planning application has been submitted by the company.