Asda still wants to come to Bognor Regis

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Asda has told Bognor Regis shoppers: ‘We still love the town’.

The retailer continues to own the site on which it wanted to build an out-of-town store.

A company spokesman said 2011 was likely to be the year in which it decides the future of the plot of some 8.3 hectares.

He said: “We still have ownership of the land and we still definitely want to come to the area to open a store.

“Everyone will know that from our previous application. The situation is on ice at the moment.

“We have no planning application coming forward, certainly within the next six months, but we wanted to see the Sainsbury’s decision.

“Now that has been made, it will help us to decide what we want to do with our site.”

One of the company’s biggest fans, district and county councillor Francis Oppler, said: “I am delighted Asda still own the land and I would urge them to keep hold of it.

“I can assure them the people of Bognor are absolutely determined they should have an Asda in the town.

“I am still receiving letters regarding Asda and people still talk to me about the company coming to Bognor.

“They are still angry about Arun denying them the choice of where they do their shopping.

“I want a Sainsbury’s store as well in Bognor because then the community can make the choice about where they do their shopping and not have it made for them by remote councillors based in Littlehampton.”

It was two years ago Asda’s plan for a store with 48,000sq ft of selling space was rejected by the district council in one of the most intense debates held in its council chamber.

The council’s development control committee rejected by just four votes the company’s plans to open on the Oldlands Farm site off the A29 Shripney Road.

As well as the store, Asda offered to put in the services for the long-awaited business park on the land and build its first 10,000sq ft of offices.

It reckoned its plans amounted to a £30m investment in Bognor and would have created some 800 jobs. Of those, 500 would have been in the store.

But councillors voted by 11-7 to reject the proposals. They said the company had failed to show it had first assessed other sites in and next to the town centre and which were less likely to flood.

They also said the new store could affect Bognor’s town centre shops and the new offices could end up being unoccupied.

Sainsbury’s – further south along Shripney Road – gained backing from the council and the government because it is seen as a regeneration project.

It will redevelop a disused industrial site and stops customers travelling to the firm’s store in Chichester.