New Midhurst supermarket hopes look set to be dashed

ks1500466-1 Mid Waitrose Hoarding  phot kate SUS-150922-184237008
ks1500466-1 Mid Waitrose Hoarding phot kate SUS-150922-184237008

Hopes for a new supermarket on the site of the former Grange Centre in Midhurst look set to be dashed.

At a meeting of Tory-led Chichester District Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, members look set to sell the prime town centre land for the development of a care home.

In a report to the cabinet, members are told 13 offers have been received since the site was put back on the market in 2016.

Of these, ten were for residential use, with two of those for retirement homes.

One offer was for a food store and one is described as being ‘either residential or retail dependent on planning and demand.’

“The remaining offer for the care home use is the preferred bid,” reported divisional manager for property and growth Vicki McKay.

The details of the care home deal will be outlined in a secret report.

Leaders of the Midhurst community say they have not been consulted on the proposals.

In her open report Ms McKay said the council was ‘seeking to achieve the successful disposal at best consideration’ of the district council owned land for ‘appropriate development’.

She said: “A non residential based development of the site is still considered to be both the most valuable and beneficial use to the community and has the potential to bring additional benefits such as local employment. It is considered residential development would not give best value from the disposal and would bring fewer wider benefits.”

The suggestion of an ‘enterprise hub’ was a concept which required further investigation, she said. “There has been no interest shown from potential bidders for this use, which is a strong indicator that there is no current demand for such a facility in this location.”

Two retail based bids were received, said Ms McKay, ‘neither of which would generate the level of capital receipt offered by the preferred bidder’.

Grange site empty for four years

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

Despite unveiling plans for a Waitrose store 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 and the site went back on the market.

At a meeting on November 1, 2016, CDC’s cabinet resolved that none of the latest offers was acceptable and officers were authorised to put it back on the market again on an ‘open ended basis’ including sending particulars to those previously interested.

Calls for a ‘temporary use’ of the site were ruled out in July last year.

CDC said it was considering new offers after ‘passively marketing’ it since before Christmas 2016.

Plans for 16 homes on the site were granted more than five years ago.