Council fighting hard to attract John Lewis to Horsham

Indicative artist's impression of the new Horsham Waitrose
Indicative artist's impression of the new Horsham Waitrose

A new Waitrose could still be joined in Horsham by a John Lewis store as an application has been submitted to the council for the Bishopric site.

Developers Westrock are planning a redevelopment of the town centre’s West End, including a new purpose built Waitrose store and a similarly sized non-food store, both fronting on to Albion Way.

It has been floated as an ideal home for a John Lewis store and this week Ray Dawe, leader of Horsham District Council, said the authority was fighting hard to attract the premier retailer to the town.

A spokesperson for Westrock said: “Negotiations are ongoing and we will be informing the community as soon as we know the use of the second unit.”

Under current plans Lifestyle Ford will move to the vacant Broadbridge Heath premises off Farthings Hill roundabout, while Horsham Bowling Club is to be re-homed at Holbrook Tythe Barn in Pondtail Road.

The application’s design and access statement concludes: “Through careful analysis of the site we have designed a building that we believe not only adds to the area through commercial activity, but also adds to the area physically.

“The uses have been carefully combined to create a single building, to deliver a good shopping experience and environment.

“The architectural form and modelling is derived from an understanding of the site’s past and of its neighbouring buildings.”

Writing in his regular column for the County Times this week, Mr Dawe said: “We are working hard to get them to come to Horsham against strong competition from other towns by offering the right site in the right location.”

As well as the site itself, part of Albion Way and the Bishopric would be redeveloped to join up the new stores with the rest of Horsham town centre.

A ‘West End of Bishopric Civic Zone’ located at the Shelley Fountain Square would see the removal of clutter and unification of street furniture, with new pedestrian ‘flow’ and ‘rest zones’, according to proposals.

Part of the carriageway would be resurfaced at the junction of Albion Way and the Bishopric, with new lighting and signage to ‘shift focus to the Bishopric as an integrated component of the town centre’.

A pedestrian crossing would also be included across Albion Way.

The proposal’s planning and retail statement says: “The scheme will bring significant benefits to Horsham, acting as a western extension to the town centre and thereby retaining a greater proportion of catchment area expenditure in the town.

“The food element will provide a larger store for Waitrose and thereby enable it to provide a fuller option for shoppers, while the non-food element will provide large footprint retail units not available within the rest of the town centre.”

The existing Waitrose store in Piries Place would relocate, adding up to 50 jobs on top of the 120 people already employed.

Around 400 parking spaces would be provided at surface and undercroft level.

In other town centre developments, work is continuing on the £500,000 enhancement works for West Street.

Contractors have removed the street furniture including bins, benches and planters, and have put up metal barriers in preparation for works on the street’s surface.