Damaging change for town centre

Having seen two presentations by the developer for the Ford site in the Bishopric, Horsham, the more damaging it seems for the town centre.

A planning application will, it seems, be made soon. Officers of the council and councillors will have to decide to support the proposals or not. I hope not. Early discussions are obviously taking place including, talks with councillors.

The council drew up a policy for the western end of the town centre, including this site, but the proposals will in no way match the guidance given in that policy.

Broadly the policy required that any development should not in any way damage the trading position of the town centre. Furthermore any new shopping provision should provide an anchor store to draw customers along West Street joining it with the Bishopric.

Finally, something should be done, not easy, to ameliorate the effect of heavy traffic on Albion Way. Clearly nothing should be done to increase that traffic.

In my opinion the proposals dramatically fail on all these counts. It is proposed that there should be two major stores totalling 70,000 square feet of shopping all with access from the roundabout near Curry’s and parking for 300 cars. This will create traffic mayhem on Albion Way.

To be an ‘Anchor Store’ a scheme needs to be seen and obvious from West Street and the Bishopric, it is neither. The proposal is totally hidden from view on these streets and, in effect, cut off like an ‘out of town’ scheme.

In articles in the County Times and clearly shown on the architects’ drawings the proposal for the two stores is for a ‘John Lewis At Home’ and a damagingly resited Waitrose from Piries Place.

Whilst planning permission is not required for the name of a retailer, clearly the appalling traffic and access arrangements will provide sufficient reason to refuse permission. So Mr Developer, cut out the food store, reduce the traffic, save Piries Place.

For a little light at the end of the tunnel a store for John Lewis (with pedestrian access to the Bishopric) whilst still not an anchor store would be very helpful to the niche market that Horsham aspires to provide.

Your readers might like to look at the, admittedly, out of town store in Chichester to see how good it can be. They should should prepare for battle.

ROY WORSKETT

Hampers Lane, Horsham