Henfield’s business objectives for the Neighbourhood Plan were discussed at a lively meeting of senior figures on Monday.
The meeting, chaired by Faustino Bayo, community development officer of Action in Rural Sussex, looked at the major strengths of a “thriving” village.
Neville de Moraes, lead Henfield parish councillor on economic affairs, said: “It is vital that we shape the future of this village with the views of the community.”
Business owners and managers identified positive views of Henfield - from free car parking to bridle paths, the DownsLink cycleway, Leisure Centre, sport facilities, pubs, restaurants, shops and village events.
Poor WiFi in community buildings and poor mobile networks and Broadband speeds were cited as vital issues to be addressed for businesses.
And future affordable housing development for younger people, plus job opportunities (including self-employment) and the maintaining of the high standard of High Street shopfronts were seen as crucial to village life.
“Henfield has many wonderful attractions, including a Monday market,” said Faustino. “The variety of experiences in Henfield should attract a wider audience from outside the village.”
Kevin Baughen, marketing and communications manager for Hidden Britain, said: “Henfield is obviously a very vibrant community with some under-utilised facilities which need to be promoted widely.”
Henfield Gardens and Arts (June 14-15) was cited as one of the major attractions which brought visitors to the village.
“The unique nature of the shops, pubs and restaurants in Henfield needs to be preserved to retain the rural nature of the village,” said Kevin.
Public transport was generally seen as good, but many business owners accepted that workers mainly travelled from outside the district and came by car.
“Free car parking, with the possible introduction of time-limit discs, is a major factor in the success of Henfield,” said Neville.
A draft list of action points for Henfield to go for further discussion locally was drawn up.
Eventually all Neighbourhood Plans, following consultation, across the country will be subject to local voting before they are passed.
Report and pictures by Mike Beardall, Oakfield Media.