New offers for ‘Waitrose site’ at Midhurst are being considered

An artist's impression of the Waitrose planned for Midhurst in 2015
An artist's impression of the Waitrose planned for Midhurst in 2015

Calls for a ‘temporary use’ of the derelict ‘Waitrose site’ in Midhurst have been ruled out by owners of the land, Chichester District Council.

At a full meeting it was revealed the district council is now considering new offers for the site next to the Grange after ‘passively marketing’ it since before Christmas.

Executive director Paul Over told members: “Clarification from those offers has now been obtained and there’s some further liaison with tenderers and bidders which will be concluded over the next few weeks with a view to bringing a report to cabinet.”

Several weeks ago the Midhurst Society suggested that the ‘eyesore’ hoarding-clad area should be temporarily grassed over for the use of the public and offered to fund three seats.

But Mr Over said: It would not be wise to allow a temporary use when you’re so far down a marketing route. Experience shows despite being described as temporary, once that useful scheme is done it gains support locally, and it’s then very very difficult to remove it.

“It’s best when you’ve made a resolution as an authority to sell the land, and we’re well down that route, you follow through and don’t allow any short term distractions.”

The site of the former Grange, bulldozed in 2014, has been empty for more than three years and three attempts to sell it for a supermarket have failed.

Despite unveiling plans for a Waitrose store to the public in January 2015, the supermarket later pulled out of a deal with CDC after protracted planning talks failed. Waitrose said changing trading conditions meant it was not viable. Since then it has been marketed twice without success.

CDC gained planning permission for 16 homes on the site some five years ago.

Last month Midhurst town councillor Gordon McAra suggested if CDC could not find a supermarket to develop the site it could be given to the town’s community land trust to build much needed affordable homes.

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