Could town Sainsbury’s site be redeveloped?

Artist's impression of a potential redevelopment scheme of the Sainsbury's site, The Forum is at the top
Artist's impression of a potential redevelopment scheme of the Sainsbury's site, The Forum is at the top

Major plans to redevelop Sainsbury’s store site in Horsham and build new shops and homes have been suggested as a possible option for the future of the town centre.

A mixture of housing and retail could be built on the northern part of the site overlooking The Forum Plaza with large shop units to attract major brands such as Primark to the town.

Current Sainsbury's and The Forum site

Current Sainsbury's and The Forum site

Or the entire site including the existing Sainsbury’s store could be redeveloped, with a smaller ground-floor shop for the supermarket chain re-provided facing on to Worthing Road.

The library building in Lower Tanbridge Way could also be redeveloped with a replacement facility provided alongside a new premises for the doctors’ surgery.

The site is included as an opportunity area in the Horsham Town Centre Vision.

A consultation on the document has been launched by Horsham District Council, with the public invited to exhibitions today (Friday May 19) and tomorrow (Saturday May 20) from 10am-5pm at Unit 49 in Swan Walk Shopping Centre opposite Wilkos.

New circular compas paving feature

New circular compas paving feature

Clive Burley, HDC’s corporate projects manager, explained that a retail study had identified how Horsham lacked ‘larger footprint stores’ that would attract retailers such as Primark.

He added: “We have had discussions with Sainsbury’s. They are happy for us to engage them in a debate.”

He explained how a new surgery could act as a civic anchor, while enclosing the open space in The Forum Plaza on the southern side could make it a more pleasant area for visitors to the town.

He stressed that everything in the vision were only ideas at this stage and residents were being asked if they agreed or disagreed with what was in the document.

Horsham curved archway water curtain feature

Horsham curved archway water curtain feature

The vision says: “There may be an opportunity to make better use of The Forum Plaza and Library areas - to provide upgraded library and surgery premises, improve through routes to West Street, Worthing Road, and the bus station.

“Larger sized shops could be built to attract missing stores from the town. By enclosing the Piazza on the southern side it could make for a pleasant sheltered environment to shop and spend time.

“This area also contains Sainsbury’s and its car park, which is an inefficient use of space so close to the town centre.

“Opportunities to redevelop the car park could include the Sainsbury’s store itself. In this example Sainsbury’s store is relocated westwards next to Worthing Road, at ground floor level, with underground parking and housing built on top of the store to make best use of the whole site.

Welcome to Horsham feature

Welcome to Horsham feature

“There is an opportunity to provide a range of housing types, some for sale, rent or shared ownership and meet housing needs in a sustainable manner.”

The overall aim of the vision is to develop an aspirational, comprehensive and deliverable vision for the town centre over the next ten to 15 years.

The council has recently undertaken a thorough review of Horsham to include population growth and social and economic factors in order to shape their ideas.

As well as setting out the strategic directions for the town centre a number of potential development sites have been identified with a view to exploring and delivering new public realm schemes that would benefit the town centre.

The exhibition explores the current strengths and weaknesses of the town centre and displays potential development and environmental enhancement opportunities for the public to comment on and express their views.

Other improvement opportunities are in Blackhorse Way, which ‘suffers visually by the presence of trade waste bins’, WiFi hotspots, described as a ‘relatively low-cost addition which would increase the time people spent in the town’, and Queen Street where ‘much can be achieved through relatively straightforward frontage and paving improvements’.

The vision also asks the public’s opinion on improving the numerous Albion Way crossings and focuses heavily on future improvements to the Bishopric where the Shelley Fountain used to be located.

Suggested elements in the Bishopric include extending the West Street theme all the way to Albion Way, or creating a film theme between the new cinema planned in Swan Walk and the bus station, and adding features such as a ‘Welcome to Horsham’ installation, lighting, and planting.

Mr Burley added: “This is about engaging people and saying there’s a debate here.”

After Saturday May 20 the exhibition will be relocated to Horsham Library and will be available to view from Tuesday May 23 to Friday June 2.

For those unable to come along to the exhibition, they can view the proposed ideas on the council’s Current Consultations page which also includes feedback forms.

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