Waitrose redevelopment: Littlehampton councillors criticise 'zero community consultation'

Councillors have criticised a lack of consultation with the community after plans were submitted to transform the former Waitrose in the town centre into flats.

Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 2:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 7:36 pm
Littlehampton town councillors Tracey Baker, Billy Blanchard-Cooper, Dr James Walsh and Ian Buckland outside the former Waitrose store in Littlehampton town centre

On Tuesday, plans were submitted to Arun District Council to demolish the existing buildings on the site in Avon Road, Littlehampton, and build 83 homes there, with a small amount of retail space: 158.5 square metres of a site around 2,300 square metres.

Reacting to the news, Lib Dem councillors on Littlehampton Town Council have criticised the plans.

Councillor Ian Buckland said: “Despite having many pre application meetings with officers at Arun the applicants have carried out zero consultation with the community prior to submitting the application. That is unacceptable.”

Waitrose in Littlehampton's town centre could be turned into 83 homes

Dr James Walsh said: “At first glance the plans seem to show losing a sizeable supermarket and car park for a retail unit of just 158 sq m and 83 flats with minimum space standards and just 40 car parking spaces. This is more of town cramming than town centre planning. It is difficult to see at this early stage what the benefits to the town are, and will clearly worsen car parking problems.”

Littlehampton's mayor, Billy Blanchard-Cooper, said: “However, we will examine the proposals and respond to the application constructively. The site needs bringing back into use as it is currently a major blight visually and anti-socially to the town centre, with its shutters and concrete blocks.”

Councillor Tracey Baker, deputy mayor, said: “ We need to be encouraging more shopping footfall into the town centre, to maintain and improve its viability, rather than losing retail space to out of town retail parks.”

Members of the public had their say on the Littlehampton Gazette Facebook page.

Many called for the building to be turned into a cinema, bowling alley or ice skating rink. Bill Dalson said: "A skating rink would bring loads of people to the town and revenue."

John Beeches said: "Pack in more people into a town that’s already being surrounded by estates? Great idea.

"We need an entertainment complex there possibly or at least something that will bring jobs into the area, not just saturate it with more people. The GPs are already struggling badly and the schools are the same."

Others said it should be turned into a Primark store. However, Laura Fleming said: "Primark have said it's too small..they have a lower limit for square footage they won't touch anything below and apparently that store doesn't meet it."