Free Wifi to be explored for Horsham town centre as council spends £80,000 on greenery and shop front face-lifts in West Street

Unveiling event at West Street in Horsham
Unveiling event at West Street in Horsham

Around £80,000 is to be spent on greenery and shop-front enhancements as part of phase two of the West Street development in Horsham.

Horsham District Council (HDC) has also put aside £25,000 while officials explore the option of free Wifi which would be rolled out across the town centre.

They are the ‘finishing touches’ on a project which has cost the council nearly £700,000.

Helena Croft, HDC deputy leader and cabinet member for communication, Horsham town and special projects, said about 25 per cent of the development is left and she hopes it will be completed by Easter this year, and before the popular Piazza Italia event.

The local authority is working closely with Horsham in Bloom to come up with a greenery design to brighten up West Street.

Initial ideas hint at cone-shaped planters to be placed inbetween shop fronts. It is hoped this will maintain the new open feel.

Displays will be in line with the horse theme which runs down Horsham’s most popular street.

A budget of £40,000 has been allocated to this - the same as that for shop front face-lifts.

Businesses will be offered to put in a certain amount of money which the council has promised to match.

The deputy leader said: “There will be clear caveats and remits as to what they can spend the money on.

“Some of the paint work on shop fronts is really bad, and it tends to be the independents that need more help.

“We want the whole street to be lifted.”

In the original West Street plan thousands of pounds was allocated for an audio system to be used when Horsham plays host to big events.

But the idea was scrapped after feedback from the public and replaced with free Wifi.

HDC is in contact with network providers and companies specialising in equiping town centres with Wifi.

She continued: “The audio system was an idea that was brought forward. We realised West Street was the wrong place for it. We’ve listened to views from businesses and the public and people felt the money could be better spent elsewhere.

“Now we’re exploring as to whether Wifi is something that is workable in the town.

“3G is very poor in the town, and it’s beyond our remit to change that in the town.”

She said ‘nobody wants to nail their colours to the mast’ yet but the move would be a good marketing ploy for the town.

“Technology is advancing at such a rate that what seems good today may not be in the near future. We’re not throwing masses amounts of money at it.”

Two more bins will be installed in the street to help cope with an increase in rubbish.

Improvements to West Street’s paving, signage and lighted were unveiled at a ceremony last year.

Mrs Croft added: “It’s really vital that we promote Horsham as a destination for visitors. We want to see Horsham flourishing from a business point of view. We are doing well, we are bucking some of the national trends in terms of shop visitors yet some of our businesses still struggle, so we want to do everything we can to promote the town as a great place to come and visit. We’ve got to have an offer which is attractive and unique.”