PROPOSALS to construct a car showroom and two retail units on the outskirts of Rustington were given the green light by councillors last night (Wednesday, March 12).
Arun District Council’s powerful development and control committee unanimously approved the outline plans for a new retail park off the A259, north of the village.
It will see the BMW and Mini dealers Chandlers moving from its base in Water Lane, Angmering, to a new 42,000 sq ft site in Rustington.
The move will help safeguard the jobs of almost 90 people currently working at the dealership, as well as offering further employment to 30 local people, Chandlers’ managing director Martin Walsh told Arun last night, during the meeting at the Arun Civic Centre, in Maltravers Road, Littlehampton.
Arun Rustington West councillor Ray Steward said: “I completely agree with the officer’s recommendation to approve this scheme.
“It could not be a better site and it has been long-awaited. I think it’s good for local employment and it has my total support.”
Arun’s cabinet member for planning and infrastructure said that he was concerned about the potential height of the showroom.
However, he said: “In general, I welcome this application. I support the operation by the proposed to transfer here from Angmering.
“I think it is important that operation actually transfers out of Angmering.”
Store Property Investments is behind the outline plans for the new premises as well as a full planning application for two separate retail units, with up to 37,000 sq ft of retail floorspace.
The 42,000 sq ft site for Chandlers would include a workshop, an MoT facility, car valeting and car storage on land south of the A259 and west of Mill Lane.
It would enable Chandlers to consolidate its four existing BMW and Mini sites at Angmering and Rustington into one, in the process.
Cllr Bower said he was interested in the future of what the Angmering site is likely to be, adding: “The only other point I would like to make is that I do hope that seeing as we have so many supermarkets in the area I do hope that the food retailer we are going to get here is of the quality end.”
In a report by planning officers, they considered the two retail units could have an impact on trade in Littlehampton and Rustington.
They concluded the units could have an impact on surrounding areas, particularly because of the ‘cumulative impact’ of Morrisons and Sainsbury’s opening recently in Wick and Rustington respectively.
However, to mitigate this, Store Property Investments, which owns the nearby Rustington Retail Park and much of the village shopping centre, has agreed to pay Rustington Parish Council contributions to protect the centre, including the cost of improved signage and £20,000 to produce an action plan to boost trade in the village, as well as paying £20,000 per year, for five years to implement this plan.
Arun planning officer, Cian Cronin said the scheme had the potential to contribute to the economic development of the area.
“It will retain an existing large employer in the form of Chandlers and provide further retail jobs on the land to the west,” he told the committee.
“While there will be cumulative impact on Rustington village centre it is considered that the proposed mitigation is suitable and will allow Rustington to develop further plans and thrive further.”
For the full story, see next week’s Littlehampton Gazette (Thursday, March 20).