ASDA is set to open a huge superstore near Littlehampton, creating 540 jobs (180 full-time) on the former Country Fayre garden centre site in Ferring.
The supermarket giant is realising a long-held ambition to open such a store in this area, and it was only last week that Asda signed a 25-year lease with Country Fayre site owner Michael Wiggins, following years of planning consent negotiations.
It has also been a long journey for Mr Wiggins, who was first refused planning permission, on appeal, for a supermarket on that site, in 1986.
Country Fayre, in Littlehampton Road, was the largest covered garden centre in the country until its recent demolition and site clearance.
After his previous failure to win planning consent, Mr Wiggins turned to the Bournemouth law firm of Horsey Lightly Fynn (HLF), which had succeeded in an entirely unrelated, landmark case in establishing that pure garden centre use was equivalent in planning terms to A1 retail – such as a superstore.
HLF took over the application, even going as far as the Court of Appeal and the Lands Tribunal. It finally secured planning consent in September, 2010.
Partners in the practice, Lionel Fynn and Tony John, handled all the planning and conveyancing issues.
Mr Fynn said: “I am absolutely delighted that we were able to reach a successful outcome for Mr Wiggins in what was a pretty complex case, both in planning terms and legally.
“I think local residents will really benefit from the new supermarket on the site, that can now be developed to its full potential.
Mr John said: “In these difficult economic times, this will be a significant boost to employment and the local economy, and we are delighted to have helped make it possible.”
Ricky Bower, Arun District Council’s cabinet member for planning, said the council welcomed the increase in the number of jobs that would be created at the Asda store.
Mr Bower added: “However, the council is keen to ensure that any future proposals submitted by Asda address any additional impact they may have upon the A259 and this prominent site.”
Asda plans to open the store during the latter half of next year.