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Dorridge Residents' Association response to Sainsbury's news

You may have heard that Justin King has written to local residents to say that because of various factors, Sainsbury’s are not going to redevelop Forest Court this year.

Below is the full response from the residents' association to news that the Dorridge Sainsbury's development has been delayed:

YOU may have heard that Justin King has written to local residents to say that because of various factors, Sainsbury's are not going to redevelop Forest Court this year. Indeed the letter (the contents are available here) does not indicate any commitment to development in the future.

As Chairman of the Residents Association I want to express our disappointment at the delay the development of Forest Court that the Sainsbury's project team have put so much time and effort into over five years.

Dorridge is a thriving community with many assets: its people, pleasant housing, the parks, its train station with excellent connections with Solihull, London and Birmingham and its location near marvellous Warwickshire countryside. Sainsbury's invited themselves into this community. They told us that they were interested in our community and Justin King (Chief Executive of Sainsbury's) himself made enthusiastic comments about the Dorridge development in the national press.

We are very unhappy that the centre has been blighted. Sainsbury's bought Forest Court, Sainsbury's closed Forest Court, now Sainsbury's have decided not to develop Forest Court. It is no exaggeration to say local residents feel betrayed by this recent announcement. As owners of the site, Sainsburys are the only people who are in a position to resolve the situation, yet they seem unconcerned about their impact on our community.

By coincidence, Sainsbury's are also responsible for the closure of the local petrol station. Mistakes have been made in the handover and in their assessment of the property. These have led to further delays in the refurbishment of the site. In contrast, we noticed how smoothly the transfer of the Box Trees Farm petrol station went. If they cannot bring in a simple refurbishment of a petrol station in a reasonable time, it brings into question Sainsbury's ability to manage the larger redevelopment project and makes us even more anxious as to what the future holds for the development.

Sainsbury's are also the owners of the Conservation Area buildings of Station Approach, and although they have been responsible for them for five years, we still find that they are not living up to their duty to properly maintain these buildings, with two units still in poor repair despite repeated requests for the problems to be dealt with. We would hope that Sainsbury's will be responsible landlords and repair these buildings promptly. These buildings are independent of the development.

While it may be too much to ask that Sainsbury's start construction immediately, we would like to be reassured that there will be no further delays and that there will be a firm written commitment to a start date in the very near future, certainly no further away than the very start of 2014. We understand that one of the issues with the development was that the extension of the surgery was difficult to manage together with the store. We suggest that the delay is an opportunity for Sainsbury's to show their commitment to the community. We ask that they demolish the eyesore that is Forest Court and provide the community with the revitalised surgery that was promised. It will only be when Sainsbury's start delivering the improvements to Dorridge that they assured us we needed that Sainsbury's can regain the trust of the local community.

Ian Spencer

Chairman, Dorridge & District Residents' Association



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