Waterlooville regeneration: What should happen to empty Waitrose supermarket building according to our readers

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Bowling, mini golf and a cinema have all been discussed as potential uses for a supermarket building which has stood empty in Waterlooville for the last few years - but it could be completely demolished as part of plans to modernise the town.

As previously reported, the Waitrose store in Dukes Walk shut its doors for the final time in September 2020, and since then local people have speculated about what will happen to the building. A spokesperson for The John Lewis Partnership – the company behind Waitrose – said the chain is “in talks with the landlords” about future plans for the building’s occupation, raising hopes that it will not continue to remain empty for years. However, these plans are still in their early stages. The Waitrose spokesperson confirmed the company still holds the lease on the property and this will run out in 2026.

As part of a “masterplan” to regenerate Waterlooville, Havant Borough Council is weighing up options for the contentious site, including knocking it down to make way for a more “positive” addition to the area. Here is everything you need to know about the building.

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What will happen to Waitrose in Waterlooville?

It was rumoured that discount supermarket chain Aldi could take over the venue following a planning application from the retail giant. Havant Borough Council’s planning committee agreed to grant permission for the construction of a new Aldi store in Elettra Avenue, Waterlooville – alongside branches of Costa and KFC – in March 2023, although no work has been carried out on the site since then. When the plans were first put forward, they were met with opposition from local people – with 197 objections initially submitted – with many wanting the empty land next door to an existing Lidl and McDonald’s used for leisure purposes instead of retail. A number of objectors pointed to the fact that Aldi could instead take over the vacant former Waitrose building. However, a spokesperson for Aldi confirmed that this would not be the case, and that a purpose-built Aldi supermarket would be “delivered to the area.”

Since we reported on this, a number of our readers have shared their thoughts on what they would like to see happen to the area. In response to the news that The John Lewis Partnership is “in talks” with landlords, one person commented: “Need a cinema more then another food shop. Already got Asda, Sainsbury, M&S, Iceland and Lidle within walking distance of each other. Plus please no more fast food as I live near McDonald's and it stinks of burnt oil when the windows are open, and then there's the fast food rubbish everywhere.”

Another added: “Need something to do in Waterlooville; bowling, cinema, mini golf, restaurants otherwise it’s going to keep on going down hill.”

Others wished to see the supermarket reopen. One commenter said: “Bring it back - really miss that shop and it appeared to be the hub of the older community meeting for coffees etc.” Another suggested: “It could also be used as indoor markets keep people dry on wet days.”

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Waterlooville regeneration

Last month, Havant Borough Council initiated the next stage of their Waterlooville Masterplan with draft content put on display to the public at the old Game shop, 95 London Road. The plans, on display between Thursday, March 14 and Saturday, March 17, showed an ambitious vision for the town centre which has been neglected for a number of years. While the town is currently dominated by vacant shops, the plans showed a park, green spaces and easy access for pedestrians and cyclists. The council, and landowner of Wellington Way, Questmap, are looking to bring residential flats into the centre while also holding art festivals to give people reasons to visit beyond just shopping. This consultation is scheduled to continue throughout 2024.

Part of the masterplan - which can be viewed here - states: “Large spaces such as the old Waitrose building create barriers to circulation and add to an impression of neglect.” It also proposes: “A new culture, leisure, or other non-retail attraction on the site of what was Waitrose, to anchor this south west corner of the town and provide a more attractive welcome to those arriving from Stakes Hill Road.” However, the document also says that the building’s structure means that its reuse may “prove very difficult” and that its demolition may serve these ideas better.

Havant Borough Council revealed the draft content of their Waterlooville Masterplan to the public as they looked for feedback from resident.Havant Borough Council revealed the draft content of their Waterlooville Masterplan to the public as they looked for feedback from resident.
Havant Borough Council revealed the draft content of their Waterlooville Masterplan to the public as they looked for feedback from resident. | Joe Williams


The masterplan further states: “If Waitrose were to be demolished, it opens up the opportunity for a new, more positive piece of architecture, smaller than the current Waitrose. This could be home to a new (as yet unconfirmed) culture, leisure, or other non-retail attraction. At this stage, this is a concept that needs to be subject to more testing including further landowner negotiations. This new architecture also allows for new landscaped space in the foreground that could accommodate extra car parking (e.g. on certain days of the week) but could also be used for markets, events, and other community activity.

Car parking

Another area of concern for the town is the ever-present issue of car parking. The Havant Borough Council masterplan document states: “The removal of Waitrose could provide capacity for approximately an additional 100 parking spaces. The existing levels may facilitate a lower level with usable space in line with the existing car park.”

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