Vision for Horsham town centre at heart of council’s ‘place plan’

Work starts on Bishops Weald House, Horsham. Pic Steve Robards   SR1603039 SUS-160126-134804001
Work starts on Bishops Weald House, Horsham. Pic Steve Robards SR1603039 SUS-160126-134804001

Creating a new vision for Horsham town centre has been listed as one of five key priorities and issues for the district.

Horsham District Council has been tasked with producing a ‘place plan’ for the district, which will form part of a West Sussex-wide growth plan, and will be used as a lobbying tool to secure future funding.

The priorities in the plan are: infrastructure for the North of Horsham and West of Horsham strategic developments, creating and delivering a Horsham town centre vision, maximising opportunities from a review of public sector assets in Hurst Road, digital connectivity, and redevelopment of the former Novartis site.

The document is due to be agreed by HDC’s Cabinet tonight (Thursday January 28).

It explains how the town centre vision has to take into account all current and emerging pressures to offer a medium term solution to maintain the town’s ‘vitality and ensure balance’.

The plan suggests that it will build on existing success and ‘suggest imaginative and dynamic commercially viable options to uplift areas of current or potential weakness’, and identify realistic development options for key sites.

Albery House, in Springfield Road, which is currently occupied by Trend, and Piries Place are listed as two sites that have ‘development potential’.

Since a number of offices are being converted into flats, many in North Street, the plan suggests a new retail offer will be needed, alongside a new leisure offer focusing on the evening economy to keep people in the town spending money once shops and offices have closed.

Within the plan there would also be scope for more public realm improvements in the Bishopric area linking West Street to Albion Way, connecting the new Waitrose and John Lewis to the rest of the town centre.

West Sussex County Council is set to buy the former Novartis site with a view to creating a ‘world renowned’ science park, alongside some housing to fund the development, proposals which are supported in HDC’s place plan as its fifth priority.

Digital connectivity, especially for rural and home based businesses, is listed as priority four, while a comprehensive redevelopment plan for Hurst Road is the council’s third priority.

The area has been subject to various reviews since the police, ambulance and fire stations sit alongside the Royal Mail depot, training centre, magistrates’ court, and youth centre.

While nothing has materialised to date, the plan suggests there are opportunities to redevelop the area for a mix of uses to include housing, employment, and where necessary re-provided public services in a ‘rationalised approach’.

Around 2,000 homes are currently being built west of Horsham, with proposals for up to 2,750 north of the A264.

The plan’s first priority is to ‘take a holistic view’ of the infrastructure requirements for both sites and how they integrate with Horsham town to support the housing and economic growth, with the total package including nine projects under the headings of transport, education, health and employment.

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