VOTE: End to that Lec eyesore in sight

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Work to remove the biggest eyesore in Bognor Regis should start in two months.

Sainsbury’s has said it expects its contractors to move on to the former Lec site in May.

The first stage of the £50m scheme will see the existing buildings on the land cleared and the plot decontaminated of polluting substances.

The news will be welcomed by residents who had watched the remains of the fridge and freezer factory deteriorate during the past three years.

The one-time office block which stands alongside the A29 Shripney Road represents a bleak introduction to the town with its smashed windows and derelict appearance.

It is six months since Sainsbury’s was granted planning permission to build a 55,00sq ft store with a petrol filling station.

Max Whitehand, the company’s regional development executive, said the delay had done nothing to diminish its keenness to return to Bognor.

“Sainsbury’s is very much committed to delivering our new store on the former Lec factory site.

“We are looking forward to work starting on site in the coming months.

“This store will see Sainsbury’s regain a presence in Bognor and become a firm part of the local community once again,” he said.

It is expected the new store will open in the winter of 2012-13.

The time since Sainsbury’s received approval from government minister Eric Pickles has seen plenty of effort put in behind the scenes on the major job-creating scheme.

Sainsbury’s has joined with landowner, Sime Darby London, on a range of legal and technical obligations that needed to be completed before physical work could begin.

A key part of this process, as reported, was the stopping-up order application. This will enable the current access road into the site to be replaced by a new entrance from the A29.

Government cutbacks among its civil servants delayed the process but the order is expected to be completed within a month.

Another legal and technical matter to be progressed was the need by Sime Darby London to divert the public footpath which runs through the site. This is in line with the planning consent.

Raof Daud, the managing director of Sime Darby London, said: “This will enable the demolition works to take place and the creation of the new access.

“The temporary path will follow a route that is segregated from the works on site.

“The final path will also be segregated from vehicular traffic making it much safer for users.”

Work has also been carried out during the past few months on the site investigation to prepare a strategy to remove traces from past uses as a gas works and the fridge and freezer factory. This proposal has to be approved before the cleansing can start.

Once this has happened, asbestos removal and demolition works will begin.

It is expected to take a year to make the area suitable for building. Creating the store will be another year’s work.

The new Sainsbury’s store, car park and petrol station will be built on about eight acres of the former site.

There will also be a mix of employment in industrial, office or research and development uses on some 2.5 acres of land being kept by Sime Darby.

The brick-built Widdowson building will be retained as well by Sime Darby and refurbished for its existing occupier, Polestar Cooling.