Future of Horsham town under the spotlight

Horsham town centre aerial view of West Street (photo by Eddie Mitchell). SUS-160428-141452001 SUS-160428-141452001
Horsham town centre aerial view of West Street (photo by Eddie Mitchell). SUS-160428-141452001 SUS-160428-141452001

How do you want Horsham town to develop in the coming years? That’s the question being asked in a newsletter dropped through letterboxes of homes and businesses in the area.

The Horsham Blueprint Neighbourhood Forum’s Interim Report has just been published.

The community councils representing the un-parished areas of Horsham initiated the creation of the forum.

Its aim is to capture the hopes and aspirations of both residents and business of Horsham and from that develop a neighbourhood plan which will be a blueprint for the development of Horsham in the years ahead.

Everyone receiving the newsletter is encouraged to fill in the survey by Friday September 30.

To help, we’ve put together an unofficial poll (above) asking you what is the best feature of the Horsham town area. It won’t form part of the official survey and anyone across the district can join in.

Frances Haigh, forum chair, said that, drawing on all the contributions received from across the community, the report identifies main themes, wishes and ideas that have been submitted. This will form the foundation of the draft Neighbourhood Plan which is being prepared this autumn.

Mrs Haigh said: “Most importantly, there are details of our surveys. We ask that as many people as possible complete the surveys. These will supply important data for us as we write the first draft of the Plan. We would love to hear from all ages and from as many businesses as possible, in all sectors.”

The Interim Report, newsletter and the surveys are available on the forum website: horshamblueprint.org.

Commenting on the Interim Report, Mrs Haigh said: “Above all, Horsham residents, businesses and visitors value Horsham as a market town. The policies in our Neighbourhood Plan will reflect this. As a historic town centre, most of the sites which may be developed are likely to be for regeneration. Any development has to be sensitive to that history and not cause harm to the attractiveness of the town.

“People value Horsham as a great place to live because of its friendliness, its historic character, its accessibility and its green spaces and planting. Many people value Horsham precisely because it is not a clone town filled with national chains of shops and restaurants.

“Our plan will include policies that support our independent traders, in all sectors, and encourage an environment of creativity and innovation, so that new businesses are formed here. We are especially keen to have a space in the town for coworking and innovation, possibly linked with living accommodation, so that our young people have opportunities to live and work here.

“As the outskirts of Horsham becomes more built up, there will be greater pressures on the town centre. It is important to remember the human scale within our town centre: places are for people, not just for profit.

“We know that we have an ageing population and we would love to see Horsham recognised as an age-friendly town. Alongside policies for development that support independence and accessibility, we will support projects to reduce isolation and bring our community together.

“We also wish to ensure that everyone is able to make the most of our town and that people with disabilities have access to the facilities they need, such as Changing Places toilets in public buildings and suitable play equipment.

“We recognise the need for more housing that our young people can afford to rent or to buy. We are reviewing numerous sites around the town, but would still like to hear from anyone who is able to nominate a suitable site.

“We would like to see the Hurst Road public realm area redeveloped to provide the health and care facilities that our town needs.

“We think there is a lot of potential for Horsham to grow and develop its arts and culture scene. There has been some fantastic work done by organisations such as Horsham Festival and HAODS, and we wish to build on this. However, there are concerns that the proposed new multiplex will affect the Capitol and the viability of the theatre. We particularly wish to hear from residents and businesses about what they think is needed for the night-time and visitor economy that are so important to our town’s vibrancy.”