New look for Sussex high street blighted by empty shops

Giant mural taking shape in Billinsghurst High Street. Pic Steve Robards SR1913105 SUS-190531-111433001
Giant mural taking shape in Billinsghurst High Street. Pic Steve Robards SR1913105 SUS-190531-111433001

Concerns about the appearance of empty shops in a village centre have led to new action.

Fears over the future of Billingshurst High Street were expressed following the departure of three banks from the village within a year.

Artist Sarah Gillings. Photo:  Steve Robards SR1913153 SUS-190531-111444001

Artist Sarah Gillings. Photo: Steve Robards SR1913153 SUS-190531-111444001

But now the parish council has helped organise a new spruce-up with the creation of a giant mural.

Originally, supermarket chain Morrisons planned to open a local store on the empty premises site but the plans fell through.

The council went into action and launched its mural project with help from staff from fellow supermarket chain Sainsbury’s; Sussex Clubs for Young People, who provide youth sessions in the village, and Sussex artist Sarah Gillings of U CAN Spray who came up with a flora and fauna design.

A two-day painting session featuring youngsters on half-term and Sainsbury’s staff took place this week.

Billingshurst Parish Council clerk Greg Burt said: “Whilst we would much prefer to see real shops and businesses here, this really does brighten-up an otherwise dead frontage in the interim.

“What’s even better is that it has been a real partnership project of lots of business and organisations, which should also impress the In Bloom judges when they come in July.

“Whilst the parish council can’t make new businesses open in the village, by leading on such projects as this and providing floral displays, it can help create the right environment that might make businesses want to come.”