Exclusive: Coral, Waitrose & the question of who owns the car parking

20 May 2014…..Who owns the Hove Waitrose car parking, access and egress…..which of necessity also involves use of the entire Coral Greyhound Stadium frontage?  Anybody know…..definitively? Coral are telling Waitrose that they do.  Waitrose think they do (as the Co-op thought it did).  Right now, on behalf of both businesses, while ownership remains in dispute, Waitrose is managing all of it on their side and half-way down the Coral side to where trolley bays mark the limit of the Waitrose-managed area.
Waitrose opened on Thursday, 10th April; and by late afternoon, leaving Waitrose was nightmare, with back up preventing new arrivals entering from Neville Road.  It was also a race day for Corals and that is why it happened.  By 4pm the dogs were being brought to the stadium and by 6pm the racegoers were arriving too. Mayhem.
Why did Waitrose choose to open on a race day?  Certainly it provided them with information about the impact when both firms are using access/egress and car parking at the same time.  In spades.  On opening day they handled 5,700 customers.  On a their busy days they would expect to have 4,500 customers.  Wonder how that compares with the Co-op figures when they were there. 
A Waitrose employee confirms that they have 170 car parking spaces with 13 being disabled  (in two almost adjacent areas) – 50-70 more than at Western Road, surprisingly.  And regardless of who owns ALL the car parking, access and egress, Waitrose have an agreement that says all 170 spaces are for their use.  On Saturday, 19th April, all was sweetness and light for anyone arriving, parking, leaving.
Sadly the way in and way out are not confined to the Waitrose end of the site.  The Co-op was not as busy as Waitrose is; and perhaps the numbers leaving across the Coral site were not an issue then – but they are now.  On the visit to explore this, I was told that the branch want to look at the legalities of putting in a single two way entrance/exit and they have fed this back to Head office and the Waitrose Planning  Contractors to look into.  They may already be  discussing what is possible with BHCC planning officers and with Coral.  It was suggested they would like to look at whether traffic can go left and right onto the roundabout on exiting at the Coral end.  The two sites need really to be separated; but there is an ongoing dispute over who owns what. 
Coral are no doubt deeply concerned about how the popularity of Waitrose is going to impact on, and negatively affect, their race day needs.  I got the impression Coral are being a bit difficult with Waitrose.  Surprising, isn’t it, that there is a legal ownership issue at this stage?
How popular is Waitrose?  The traffic to just read about Waitrose on the saveHOVE website provides some indication!  When an article went up in November 2013 to announce they would be taking over the Co-op, opening in April 2014,  people jumped on it immediately and 784 views were logged across that month, for a total of 868 views to date.  The ‘Changeover details’ article has had 238 views to date.  ‘Opening day details’ 91 and the most recent, concerning the ‘Repositioning of Waitrose’ per se and review of the Western Road revamp and this new branch has, since going up only a few days ago, been viewed 78 times…..and all of this does not include visits to the home page where people scroll down and read whatever is there.  That is a lot of interest in Waitrose! 
Let’s hope Coral and Waitrose can separate their areas amicably; but organising a Waitrose-specific, single, two-way access/egress  point may not be easy to plan because it is so close to the intersection with Woodlands.  The current egress all the way down Neville Road to the Neville Avenue roundabout does disperse some of its customer traffic further south into Neville Road. 
Private vehicles apart, it is currently impossible to get a taxi from Waitrose (with shopping) that does not involve a long and expensive detour through the car park and down past Coral’s to Neville Avenue.  Not a problem if wishing to go south anyway…but an expensive detour if needing to go north!  Too, a pedestrian refuge/crossing would be useful somewhere along Neville Road for the safety of customers walking to and from Waitrose.
Perhaps, one day, the Coral Greyhound Stadium will be up for sale again (as it once was, before being taken off the market).  What is to be feared is a planning application from Coral seeking to redevelop the stadium site……
This is a good moment to say that a Planning Brief needs to be raised before it is too late.  A site-specific policy needs to be put in place to determine the most suitable use for it which local residents and businesses would have some consultative say in creating and which a developer would have to take into consideration.  Otherwise, as happened with Park House,  both BHCC and residents could end up chasing an inappropriate  application that has no specific policy attached to it, just a use class designation.  Getting rid of that is easy.  You market for a year and then when nobody takes it on, you can change it.  
Right now Coral and Waitrose are in a pickle over who owns what across the two sites, traffic in and out is not as it should be and no changes will happen until that legal conundrum is untangled. 
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About saveHOVE

Concerned with planning, development and the conservation of historic Hove, we actively seek to prevent inappropriate, negligent and abusive redevelopments!
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