We’re open for business - that’s the message from shopkeepers marooned at the heart of a major Horsham regeneration area.
They say trade in Park Place has been hard hit since the nearby multi-story car park in Piries Place was demolished in July.
The car park is to be replaced with a new £8 million building as part of a £35 million revamp of Piries Place which will also see the creation of a 92-bed hotel, a three-screen cinema and several shops and restaurants. It is due to open next summer.
Meanwhile shopkeepers in the landmark town square say trade is suffering because shoppers are being deterred by a lack of parking spaces, building work and hoardings. Now they are urging people: Use us or lose us.
Angie Maskell, owner of Deja women’s fashion store said the demolition of the car park had had ‘a huge impact’ on businesses in Park Place, but she vowed: “I am going to ride the storm, no matter what. Luckily, we have some really lovely customers who are very good to us.
“People don’t want empty shops in Horsham. We’re still here - come and see us.”
She said that Piries Place itself was now closed off to pedestrians and people had to walk to the end of East Street to access the shops in Park Place.
Louise Abbott, owner of Pretty Things general store and tea rooms, said trade at her shop in Park Place had also been hit and staff were also encountering problems in finding somewhere to park their own cars. “They have to park all over Horsham,” she said, “and they’re getting parking tickets because they can’t find anywhere.”
Matt Edbrooke, owner of Apple product specialist shop and repairers Mac Man, said: “Parking is a bit of an issue at the moment.” He said previously people simply parked in Piries Place and walked to the shops in Park Place. “Now they can’t get to us.”
He said hoardings from the building work were also dominant, obscuring his premises from public view.
Horsham District Council says it has provided additional parking around the town and plans to join with shopkeepers in a trade-boosting campaign in the run up to Christmas.
Horsham District Council says it is to work with shopkeepers in a trade-boosting campaign.
In a statement this week, a council spokesman said: “The council apologises for the inconvenience caused to retailers and shoppers during the building phase of the Piries Place redevelopment.
“The council has approached traders individually about taking part in a group promotional campaign to boost their businesses in the crucial pre -Christmas trading period. Details of this will be revealed in due course.
“In terms of parking, whilst the new car park is being constructed the council has organised for additional parking spaces to be made available to the public.”
These are at West Sussex County Council and Horsham District Council offices at Parkside, Chart Way, on the top level of the staff car park at the weekend and after 6pm week days where there are 93 spaces.
The spokesman added: “The council is working closely with Swan Walk Shopping Centre Car Park in the centre of Horsham to secure extra parking spaces.
“Additional bays have been freed up at the Hop Oast Park and Ride Car Park on Worthing Road.
“Now that the refurbishment of the Hurst Road Car Park (Pavilions in the Park) is complete, a further 33 car parking spaces have been created there.
“The Dukes Square Car Park (behind the Drill Hall in Denne Road, Horsham) will be available with 106 spaces after 6pm and weekends.
“The council is currently working with other organisations to facilitate extra parking in their car parks over the busy Christmas period.
“The redevelopment of the car park and shopping and leisure area is on schedule and set to be completed in the summer of 2019.”