Waitrose's decision to open 300 smaller stores is a classic good news/bad news scenario.
On the one hand, it is further evidence that neighbourhood retailing deserves to be taken seriously. But, on the other hand, each of those 300 new stores is likely to be within walking distance of an existing independent store and this will undoubtedly put some of them under pressure.
On balance, however, I think it's good news. There aren't many independent c-stores that would claim to be a competitor to Waitrose (although there are a few), and there could be opportunities to develop a complementary offer locally.
And developments in high streets are generally more beneficial to the community than more out-of-town monstrosities.
The answer really lies with consumer need. If there are locations where a mini-Waitrose would genuinely boost footfall and make the community stronger, then we should welcome them, but I hope the company doesn't seek to emulate some of their larger multiple competitors who develop without regard to local opinion.
A properly democratic and transparent planning process remains essential, and keeping the need test would be a good place to start.