Residents of the Picket Twenty estate have complained of ongoing changes and delays to the store building that was meant to be at the heart of their development.

A store has long been planned to serve the community, with Southern Co-op announced as the operator in 2018. Planning permission for the build was granted in the same year.

The store was subsequently due to open this year, but the opening has now been pushed back to January 2021, with contractors hoping “to start fitting out the store next week.”

Resident Kelly Sheldon said that the situation had “got to the point of ridiculousness.”

“It would be nice when it’s finally opened,” she told the Advertiser, “but there’s lots of things to sort.”

Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said that while they had “not missed” the shop on the site, they were frustrated by road works on the estate, which he claimed had delayed the store.

He said: “There’s been a lack of transparency between us and the builder. They can’t get hold of bricks to finish the road and have done nothing about it.”

Other residents objected to plans for accommodation located in the store to become social housing, claiming it would potentially render “the retail unit redundant and abandoned.”

One said: “The Picket Twenty estate already experiences frequent incidences of crime and antisocial behaviour (including illicit drug use and dealing) in areas of social/affordable housing. I therefore believe that more housing of such type would be detrimental to the local society.

“Such behaviour may deter residents from using the shop below these flats, thus making business unviable and potentially rendering the retail unit redundant and abandoned which would be unsightly and impact selling value of surrounding properties.”

In planning documents, Persimmon Homes said that “as a responsible developer, Persimmon Homes recognises the benefits of affordable housing and has been negotiating with a Registered Provider to deliver a number of the approved units as affordable housing.”

It added: “The Registered Provider has made an acceptable offer to Persimmon which is for all 17no. units to be provided as affordable. Given the acute need for affordable housing in the Borough this is considered a highly desirable outcome.”

Regarding the new store, a spokesperson for Southern Co-op said: “We're working hard to open our store in Picket Twenty as soon as possible and currently hope this will be in January 2021. Public access to the site is still incomplete but there is access available for our contractors so we hope to start fitting out the store next week.

“Plans for the store are all ready to go and include a large range of products from regional producers in our Local Flavours range as well as takeaway coffee and food, both manned and self scan checkouts, Amazon lockers and a myHermes parcel service. We look forward to welcoming members and customers in the new year.”

A spokesman for Persimmon Homes South Coast confirmed that the building was ready to be fitted out, and said that it was working on finishing the road works.

They said: “The road works are ongoing and are ahead of the original programme objective set to the contractor at the outset of the final surfacing.

“Unfortunately, there is a delay from the manufacturer of the block paviour being used on the development and we are liaising with the Highways Authority in order to seek an alternative solution.”