Council responds to criticism over old Grange site plan in Midhurst

Chichester District Council has responded to criticism over its management of the old Grange site in Midhurst.

After plans to turn the site into a care home were resubmitted (SDNP/22/02466/FUL), Midhurst County Councillor Dr Kate O’Kelly said that for at least eight years the council had ‘failed to ask or listen’ to the residents of Midhurst about the best option for the future of the site.

The original Grange Centre in Bepton Road was bulldozed in 2014 and since then, there have been plans to turn it into a supermarket and even a public swimming pool – both of which fell through – and plans to build a care home have proved unpopular with many residents and Midhurst councillors.

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Responding to the criticism, a spokesperson for Chichester District Council said: “The council has extensively marketed the site and has considered a variety of uses over the years. As many people are aware, we initially hoped that a food store was going to move to the site. However, the developers pulled out of the deal due to the economic problems faced by the food retail sector.

Dr Kate O'Kelly outside the old Grange centre

“We have been out to market a number of times and considered various bids for the site. The decisions surrounding the site have been thoroughly debated and scrutinised by councillors.

“Following the marketing process, councillors decided that a bid for a care home would be the best long-term solution for the site. The care home hopes to create more than 16 new jobs in the town and would help meet the needs of an ageing population and the increasing demand for care. The care home would also rely on the services of local businesses in the area, boosting the local economy.

“Since exchanging contracts with the developer, a great deal of work has been undertaken by them behind the scenes in relation to the planning application for the site. As many people will be aware, the process to sell and develop a site of this nature can be a complex and long process and is something that we are closely monitoring.

“The council is committed to offering the best value for its residents and businesses and the money generated from the site will be invested back into vital community services.

“We are also committed to helping Midhurst with its vision process. This includes seeking innovative ways to improve the town centre and further enhance it as a key visitor destination.”