Having lived in Horsham for well over seventy years, frankly, I have lost count of the number of times our town centre has been ‘rejuvenated’.
The latest scheme involves what is described as, ‘a massive shake-up for town retailing’ and involves major changes to the Bishopric end of West Street and the creation - among other things - of a state-of-the-art five-screen multiplex cinema - along with yet another clutch of restaurants.
As if we were not awash with eating places already. This major development raises the question as to just how long Horsham can be described - mainly by estate agents as - ‘an attractive Sussex market town’ - conjuring up a vision of a homespun rural idyll. Shades of TV’s Midsomer Murders! Today, such a misleading description would surely contravene the Trades Description Act?
When Horsham’s town centre was revamped some years ago, I imagine that a group of civic dignitaries took themselves off for a weekend in Bruges to discuss how they would set about creating ‘Ye Olde Towne Of Horsham’. And we have the result of their efforts in the ‘rejuvenated’ Carfax - everything phoney, from its cobbled streets - down to its imitation wooden stocks and pseudo Victorian lamp standards.
That said, not every post-War development was that bad. Take, for example, the original Swan Walk shopping centre - named after an attractive pub in West Street.
As I recall, it was officially opened d by the Duchess of Norfolk and was granted a prestigious Civic Trust Award. That was until the owners decided that it was time for a ‘rejuvenation’.
The result? A glitzy, urban array of shops without any character - save ‘The Swan’ which survived the most recent make-over - after a great deal of lobbying by the Horsham Society and other concerned individuals.
And now we have yet another exciting project - which could be ready by 2019. In the meantime, prepare yourself for more deafening noise and disruption.
I feel sure that ever smiling Cllr Ray Dawe along with Swan Walk manager, Ms Gill Buchanan have our best interests at heart. As those in authority always say, ‘You’ll like it, when it’s finished’. In short, we know best - and don’t you forget it!
BARBARA A. WORLEY
Bourns Court, Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham
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