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Store opening is a sad day for trade
A redeveloped area of Brighton is due to come to life today just as a former city hub slips further into decline.
In a major change for town-centre shoppers, Sainsbury's is closing its London Road supermarket and opening a new store in New England Street this morning.
The move marks the end of ten years of argument over the use of the land, a former derelict railway yard east of Brighton station.
Opponents are planning to mark the store's opening with a lunchtime protest.
The new shop heralds the completion of part of the New England Quarter.
It has underground parking for 186 cars and also includes 102 apartments built around a central courtyard above the store.
The London Road Sainsbury's, which is situated at the junction with Cheapside, near St Peter's Church, has served shoppers for 33 years.
Its closure comes within weeks of the axe falling on the nearby Co-op department store.
The supermarket's move has raised fears London Road will become a less desirable place for shoppers.
Councillor Keith Taylor, who is organising the protest, said: "This will be a serious blow to London Road. It will suck customers up the hill, away from the shops and transport links.
"This has never been in the community's interest. We would have liked to see Sainsbury's stay on London Road and help its regeneration.
"The people who spent years protesting about this will be gathering there in sorrow to see the waste of the site."
Stuart Gover, of Grandad's Bike Shop in the Open Market, said the closure of the store would be a blow to neighbouring businesses already struggling to make ends meet.
He said: "London Road is in a bit of trouble.
"It is mainly because people want too much money for leases.
"The leases have been jacked up and jacked up, that is what is killing London Road."
The New England Street Sainsbury's will open from 7am to 9pm on weekdays, 8am to 9pm on Saturdays and 11am to 5pm on Sundays.
Staff member June Hall, who has worked in the London Road Sainsbury's for 33 years, will ceremonially close the store this morning and cut the ribbon at the new shop at 9am.
Dave Hunt, manager of the new supermarket, said: "The store is a big improvement on the old store on London Road, which had outgrown its use.
"The customer experience will be greatly improved with a bigger, better store and modernised customer facilities."
Sainsbury's has set up a daytime helpline for residents and customers with questions about the new store on 020 7430 2590.
Do you think London Road is in trouble? Should Sainsbury's have stayed at its old site to help the regeneration of the area. Have your say, leave your comments below.