Up to 60 new jobs will be created in Heathfield by the opening of a new Waitrose store.
The group has just announced plans to demolish the existing Goldsmith and Allcorn Vauxhall garage in Station Road and build a new Waitrose convenience shop.
The supermarket is proposing a shop which will have a sales area of 6,000 sq ft and provide about 37 car parking spaces. The new building will be similar in footprint and no taller than the existing garage it will replace.
Up to 60 new jobs will be created for local people by Waitrose with all employees becoming Partners in the John Lewis Partnership. This entitles them to benefits including leisure and learning subsidies, a non-contributory pension scheme and a share in profits. In 2014 staff received the equivalent of eight weeks’ wages in bonus so a significant proportion of profits will go back into the local area.
Waitrose and development partner, Greenhall Estates Central Limited, aims to submit a planning application in the coming weeks. If this is successful, the developer would plan to start on site in February next year with Waitrose commencing a fit out in September in order to open to the public in October 2015.
Waitrose Director of Development, Nigel Keen, said: “We have a long-standing ambition to have a presence in the area and believe this is an exciting opportunity to deliver new investment, which can provide a quality food store, more choice and a significant number of new jobs.”
Waitrose has also confirmed it would commit £500 and 100 staff working hours each year to local causes through their Community Matters and Partner Volunteering initiatives.
Trevor Goldsmith from Goldsmith and Allcorn said: “We will transfer our sales operation to our Uckfield branch where we have just completed an extensive enhancement and improvement programme. including a new corporate identity. We also plan to retain our service centre on a site on the Station Road industrial estate opposite. As you know we offer free MOT with every car purchased and this, plus all other agreed warranties will be honoured. We also plan to increase our courtesy car fleet and the firm will continue to serve the people of Heathfield. It is really good news that this development will be offering so many new jobs to the town.”
He pointed out the business has been in his family for more than 90 years. He went on: “The decision was taken with a lot of hard thinking because of the time it has been in the family.”