Permanent pedestrianisation of Horsham’s East Street has cleared another hurdle as the scheme gained the support of the independent inspector.
West Sussex County Council put an experimental Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) in place last summer to stop all vehicles driving in East Street and Market Square between 10.30am and 4.30pm.
Outside of these times only access for disabled and loading was allowed.
By removing all traffic during the busiest hours of the day, it was hoped that shoppers would benefit from the new environment.
A number of businesses reported an improvement in trade and many cafes now have tables and chairs in the street.
The experimental order meant two parking bays for blue badge holders were relocated from East Street to the Carfax outside the King’s Head (ASK restaurant).
Objections to the changes were made about disabled access, disabled parking, and access and loading for delivery vehicles.
Following a public inquiry at County Hall North in Horsham last month, inspector Alan Boyland supported a permanent TRO for East Street.
In his report, Mr Boyland said: “Subject to measures being put in place to address issues regarding the surfacing of, and around, the relocated blue badge parking spaces in Carfax and the bollards alongside them, and to provide for lawful vehicular access to them at all times, permanent orders replicating the provisions of the existing experimental orders be made.”
The announcement was welcomed by both West Sussex County Council and Horsham District Council.
WSCC’s North Horsham County Local Committee chairman, Brad Watson (Con, Southwater and Nuthurst), said: “There has been great support among residents and businesses in Horsham for pedestrians to have priority in East Street and Market Square throughout this experimental period.
“Now the move has been backed by the inspector – we can look at making it permanent.
“We feel by banning vehicles during daytime hours it will benefit our businesses and encourage visitors to spend more time here.”
Mr Watson added: “We will bear in mind the comments that the inspector made about improving the conditions for disabled parking.”
Helena Croft (Con, Roffey North), HDC’s cabinet member for communication, Horsham town, and special projects, said: “Horsham District Council is delighted that the inspector has supported a decision to make the experimental Core Time Traffic Closure in East Street and Market Square permanent.
“This underpins the huge investments made in the area in recent years in expectation of pedestrian priority access.
“We believe that this in the best interests of the majority of users and we will continue to work in partnership with businesses and user groups to seek to ensure that this area of the town supports business users of all types, offering the best possible visitor experience.”
Mrs Croft added: “Through the process of this inquiry, and in respect of an increasingly ageing population, we are pleased to have identified a number of measures in which we could improve existing blue badge provision in the immediate vicinity.
“We are committed to working with WSCC and others through due processes to ensure there is a positive outcome from this.”
There will be a recommendation that the experimental order be made permanent at the next North Horsham CLC meeting, which takes place in September.
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