Less than a week after being roundly criticised for ‘shop blocking’ the Co-op has finally submitted plans to move into the Petworth building it has left empty for nearly three years.
Last week the supermarket was accused of damaging the economy of the town after leaving prime retail space empty in the former antiques shop at Swan House.
The Co-op repeatedly told the town it was planning to move over the road from its present home in Market Square.
But a planning application to alter the premises was refused in 2014 and despite assurances a revised proposal would be made, town councillors became frustrated when it did not materialise.
But it appears the supermarket has now been stung into action.
In a letter to the Observer from Craig Brownsell on behalf of the Co-op, he said: “We have now submitted an amended planning application for the site at Swan House.
“If approved, we believe a new food store would be greatly beneficial to shoppers, providing – for example - a wide selection of fresh and chilled products and in-store bakery, all within walking distance.
“In the autumn we will also be introducing our new membership benefits, which will reward both members and their communities for trading with the Co-op. Members will receive a five per cent reward for any purchases they make of Co-op own brand products and services, with a further one per cent directly benefiting causes in Petworth.
“The new store would replace our existing store, and we already have a proposed tenant to take over the existing premises.”
He said he was unable to give a date for the new store opening until the outcome of the revised planning application was known: “but if planning permission is granted – as we believe it should be, we hope to relocate either towards the end of this year or early in 2017.”
Last week chairman of Petworth Town Council Chris Kemp said: “We are talking about at least 3000 square metres of retail space sitting empty for three years. There is next to no other retail space in the town and they are basically shop blocking.”
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