THE Co-op has been granted permission to relocate from its present site in Petworth.
The Co-operative Group has confirmed it is to relocate its food store from its existing site on Market Square to the former antiques shop in Swan House, just opposite.
The news follows months of speculation, including talks of a Morrisons opening up on the site.
The Co-op submitted a planning application to the South Downs National Park for the premises in December 2013.
Last year Morrisons submitted a bid for the vacant grade-II listed building, but many voiced concerns over deliveries causing traffic build-up along narrow roads.
A spokesman for the Co-op said: “The new store will have about 2,700 sq ft sales area, which is more than double the size of the current store, and will provide the community with a vastly-improved range of groceries and is expected to open by summer this year.
“The Co-operative Group is owned by its members, who play an active role in the business and in the communities in which it trades.
This includes the allocation of money from the Co-operative Membership Community Fund, which is distributed to local good causes.”
But not everyone is happy about the building being used as retail space.
“I am concerned and extremely surprised by the proposal to make vehicular deliveries of stock via the main entrance facing Market Square,” said resident Allan Ramsay.
Carolyne Smith added: “There is no mention in the plans of soundproofing. In the residential flats we can hear radios and people talking in the ground floor and general noise.”
At a meeting of Petworth Town Council on February 6, councillors objected to the proposal, saying: “There is a cause for comment about the noise created with regard to traffic, plant, general noise and delivery noise.”
Samantha Moore, regional acquisitions manager for the Co-operative food, said: “We are pleased to confirm we are relocating our current store in Petworth, which is somewhat restricted due to space, to a new retail unit the other side of Market Square.
“This move will enable us to offer our customers a more extensive range, particularly fresh food, in a bright, new store.
“We look forward to being able to provide this better shopping experience, along with our continued excellent customer service to the local area. It will certainly enable customers to enjoy picking up delicious food conveniently and, in the best traditions of the Co-operative, continue to make our contribution to local life.”