Controversial Old Town superstore opens doors

The Old Town store has been the subject of a controversial battle
The Old Town store has been the subject of a controversial battle

Sainsbury’s will opens its new store in Old Town this morning (Friday) after a controversial planning history.

The shop on the former Drive Pub saite in Victoria Drive will open for business at 7am and an official ribbon cutting ceremony takes place at 9am.

It will be known as the Sainsbury’s Eastbourne Victoria Drive Local and the opening is being conducted by the store’s local charity partner, Age Concern Eastbourne.

Sixteen new jobs have been created at the store.

The store has been dogged with controversy since the supermarket giant first announced its intentions to open there.

Residents and former Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd staged a campaign to keep the building for community use and at one point there were talks for the doctors’ surgery in Green Street to move there and a medical centre to open.

Campaigners felt the small independent shops in Albert Parade will be adversely affected by a Sainsbury’s store.

But new store manager Neil Smith said the plan was to increase footfall to the area.

“It’s been quite an uphill struggle to get this store up and running,” said Mr Smith. “I’m not here to squash local businesses, I want to increase footfall and enrich the area.

“I’ve spoken to the local butcher, the pet shop, the café and even the greengrocer and they’re all looking forward to having an increased footfall in the area. We have a 14-space car park so customers will be able to pop in and have time to look around other local businesses.

“I’ve employed 16 people from the local area and taken staff from stores, such as Hampden Park and the Arndale, so they can work more local to their homes which creates more job openings in those other shops too.

“At the opening, we’ll have a representative from our chosen charity and hopefully someone from a nearby school for disabled children that we’ve helped out too. I’m hoping there will be a real sense of community within our store.”

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