£11m confidence boost for town

The deal is signed and the wait finally over - the John Lewis Partnership has announced its intention to locate a ‘John Lewis at home’ in Horsham.

The County Times first broke the news a year ago in a front page exclusive revealing developer Westrock’s £35m regeneration plans for a large area to the west of the town centre.

It is now confirmed a 45,000 sq ft John Lewis at home and new relocated Waitrose will form the centrepiece of the West End development, opening as early as Autumn 2015, subject to planning approval.

The two shops represent a £11 million pound investment by the John Lewis Partnership in Horsham.

John Lewis will create 125 new jobs, split across full and part time roles. Waitrose currently employs 120 partners locally and will be creating a further 50 roles as part of the development, meaning the total number of new jobs will be 175.

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis said: “We are very pleased to announce plans for our third John Lewis at home and Waitrose venture.

“The significant investment and job creation represents a real vote of confidence for Horsham and we look forward to becoming part of the local community.”

The announcement was welcomed by the leader of Horsham District Council, Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry), who said: “It’s taken time to get there but it was so important to get this right. 

“We believed passionately that we wanted such a prestige store in Horsham and not at an out of town location.

“At a time when so many town centres are struggling it is a huge step to have John Lewis come here and show such confidence in the future strength of Horsham as an important and growing shopping destination. 

Mr Dawe added the council has ‘secured significant improvements to the proposals to help with pedestrian connections to the town centre’.

All aspects of the scheme go before HDC’s Development Control Committee on January 21 when Westrock’s application will be considered.

Westrock has also submitted a separate planning application for the redevelopment of Bishop’s Weald House in the Bishopric and fronting Albion Way, and will be responsible for designing a new public realm in the Bishopric as well as improving connections between the existing town centre and the new development site, which Lifestyle Ford and Horsham Bowling Club are vacating.

Development director Robin Barton said: “Westrock have been working for a number of years to ensure that the West End of Horsham enhances the town’s retail offer.

“We are delighted that John Lewis at home will open alongside the new Waitrose in the Westrock development.

“We know from the consultation that we have undertaken locally that this was exactly what residents of Horsham wanted.”

John Lewis at home Horsham will focus on furniture, furnishing accessories, homeware, home and electrical technology, nursery and travel goods, selling over two floors. It also includes a selection of skincare products.

There are ten John Lewis at home stores nationwide.