THE meeting of Storrington and Sullington Parish Council on Tuesday September 20 was attended by an unusual number of people who came to hear invited members of the Waitrose development team explain their proposals for expansion.
Waitrose, in Storrington since spring 2010 in the former Somerfield premises, had already exhibited a display of the proposed plans to which the response had been largely positive. On this occasion, however, those with strong reservations turned out to make their opinions heard.
Objections from the floor were based on size and design of the proposed development, impact on existing business and increase in traffic.
The development team cited the use of modelling to inform their design decisions but unfortunately such methods rarely reflect the actuality of individual situations and circumstances, being based largely on averages. In researching models for assessing likely traffic increase in connection with a residential development in the village, I was given this information by West Sussex County Council:
“In terms of assessing impact on the highway network, a development is detailed as having a material impact upon the highway network if it generates 30 or more vehicle movements in any given hour, or would result in an increase of 10 or more movements again in any given hour through a given junction that is known to suffer from existing congestion issues.”
While understanding the problems that Waitrose has in conducting its business in the cramped conditions available, it was less than impressive to hear their representative state that the alternative to the planned development could be closure of the store. Most of the residents present were happy to have Waitrose in Storrington but objected strongly to the size of the proposed development.
Significantly, members of the development team referred several times to Storrington as a ‘Town’. It is clearly a village with all the problems of infrastructure that entails.
Despite proposals to introduce traffic-calming measures, such as another mini-roundabout, the closure to traffic of Old Mill Drive would mean that bus-stops would be resited to the High Street.
In the absence of space for bus bays in each direction, such a move could only further impede traffic flow.
Air quality was mentioned by several residents and the only sensible solution to this existing problem would be a reduction in traffic.
With current residential plans added to the Waitrose proposals traffic can only increase.
Although the regeneration of Storrington is a laudable impulse, this can only occur if a diverse range of businesses can be encouraged to operate in the village. Shortly after Waitrose arrived, two businesses dealing in perishables closed.
It is to be hoped that Waitrose and those responsible for delivering planning advice and decisions in West Sussex will reflect on the views of the public, many of whom live in Storrington itself and are only too aware of the problems besetting the village.
The problem for Waitrose is the extent to which it wishes further to invest in Storrington if its expansion is to be restricted.
Fairfields, Browns Lane, Storrington