‘Let Midhurst have Waitrose site to build affordable homes’

The planned Waitrose supermarket next to the Grange which was never built
The planned Waitrose supermarket next to the Grange which was never built

There is growing frustration in Midhurst over the lack of progress in selling the former ‘Waitrose site’ and bringing a new supermarket to the town.

Midhurst residents and businesses want a new supermarket built and there is anger over Chichester District Council’s (CDC) handling of the issue.

Town councillor Carol Lintott told a meeting a store was the answer to boosting the economy adding: “CDC cannot let their personal opinions and squabbles get in the way of a vision for Midhurst’s future. It is ridiculous the way this has been handled.”

The former Grange land owned by CDC and bulldozed in 2014, has been empty for more than three years and three attempts to sell it for a supermarket, have failed.

Kimberley Developments working with Waitrose pulled out of a deal after protracted planning talks failed, saying changing trading conditions meant it was not viable. Since then it has been marketed twice without success.

Town and district councillor Steve Morley told fellow town councillors there were differing opinions at CDC: “There are those of us who feel we missed the opportunity for the Waitrose supermarket. There is a feeling they would still like to see a good supermarket but others who think other things could go there.”

A proposal has now come from town and district councillor Gordon McAra to look at other uses including much needed low cost housing. Although in favour of a supermarket, he said there appeared to be nothing happening and the new Midhurst Community Land Trust was seeking land to build homes for local people: “There is an opportunity to provide affordable homes and I suggest we write to CDC saying if they are not successful in selling it as a supermarket then may our community land trust be given the land to build homes.”

It is to be discussed on a future town council agenda.

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