LETTER: Major blemish on street scene

Your letters
Your letters

Your readers may have read that Pret a Manger have been prosecuted by Horsham District Council for allowing their business waste to litter the environment at the rear of their property fronting Blackhorse Way in Horsham.

They were found guilty and fined £20,000 plus £4,850 in fees. They are not the only offenders in this road and, hopefully, this heavy fine may encourage other businesses to take action to improve how they deal with their waste and also encourage the public to take an interest in more effective action to improve this important street.

Blackhorse Way certainly needs improvement. It owes its existence to the pedestrianisation of West Street which meant building a new road to service the rear of the shops in West Street and to provide access to the town centre. The eastern half of this road has been tastefully developed with shops, offices and homes and is now a credit to Horsham, although it is still disfigured by permanent trade waste containers.

The western half forms a sad contrast. It is the sole entrance by road to the Carfax, the Causeway and the Grade I Parish Church, and what a dilapidated, untidy and run-down impression it makes. Over 40 trade waste containers are on view daily and trolleys, pallets, crates and litter are strewn on back yards and highway, while the buildings themselves are mostly ugly, unkempt and ill- cared for.

The Horsham Society has wrestled with this problem for years. In March 2013 a lengthy report on the deplorable state of the street was compiled. A visit to the site was made with Horsham District Council officers in early 2016 and the problem has been discussed again with the council at the society’s regular consultations. The core difficulty is that the council say they can only take enforcement action when the law on waste handling is broken. As they point out, many of the sites visible from the street are on private property, where the council can merely advise, but not control.

However many of the containers are on the public highway and here, surely, the county council could take action to prevent this, especially where obstruction is caused. On the Forum side of the road containers, pallets and metal racking are stored on areas which only have consent for loading bays and here, surely, Horsham council’s planning department could take some action.

Horsham Society wrote last January to each of the property managers along the stretch of West Street backing onto Blackhorse Way pointing out the poor state of the street, resulting in damage to the reputations of the firms concerned as good corporate citizens and asking for remedial action. We suggested screening off the rear yards, perhaps with fitted shutters to allow continued use by service vehicles.

After six weeks only one of the 20 firms has replied: The British Heart Foundation pointed out that they share a back yard with others and that they have a policy of locking their bins. They ask whether we have written to the other users of the site, and indeed we have.

This touches on the central issue in this whole depressing scene. It will take joint voluntary action by the landlords and tenants involved to resolve the problem. A simple screen would hide the necessary but unsightly mess, yet all must agree on its form and cost to get anything done.

The attitude of Pret a Manger was one of indifference to the requests of the council and they have paid the cost. How much better it would have been to spend that money on sorting out the problems with their premises, and, in conjunction with others, thereby improving the entire street.

There are still bins and waste on both sides of the street, some of which obscure visibility at the pedestrian approach to the Forum road crossing, others are left in designated service access areas.

Horsham is proud and famous for of its attractive town centre but this important road is a major blemish, aggravated by the indifference shown by those property owners and lessees who use it. We would urge them to take simple co-operative action in their own interest and embellish this neglected street scene.

Where the law is transgressed, Horsham council can enforce it to the offenders’ cost. Where the street scene is unsightly, surely it’s in the interest of the users to improve their appearance, benefiting themselves and the wider community?

Oliver Farley

Horsham Society, Denne Road, Horsham

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