Horsham redevelopment forces framing shop to close

Ragdolls picture framing shop in Horsham town centre has become the latest victim of the £30m West End improvement project.

Friday, 4th July 2014, 6:00 am
JPCT 010714 S14270268x Ragdolls closing because of Westrock development. Sandra Stevens -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140107-150752001

The County Times revealed last month McDonald’s in the Bishopric would be closing to enable developer Westrock to ‘look at other options’ for Bishop Weald House.

Subject to planning permission, it will be partly demolished and rebuilt to provide 53 new apartments above the retail units.

Ragdolls, which first opened in 1990 as part of the Fast Frame franchise, sublets from McDonald’s, whose lease expires in August.

Proprietor Sandra Stevens took over running it five years ago renaming it Ragdolls. She said: “The initial plans show they are planning to put in an entrance way to the apartments upstairs. It would go through part of my shop.

“It wasn’t a surprise, but the available units in Horsham for a business my type is tricky to find. Some of the landlords are quite picky about what businesses go in their units.

“I really wasn’t angry. It’s a lot of stress trying to find somewhere suitable in quite a short space of time. I’ve got little over a month.

“I have a small shop and I need room for a workshop at the back. Customers like that their artwork isn’t being sent off to who knows where. I want to keep it on site.”

The neighbouring Merry Thought cafe, run by husband and wife team Esy and Christina Golchin, will be spared.

Mr Golchin said: “Our heart is with Sandra and I hope she finds somewhere in the vicinity. We are going to miss her.

“We have a party wall. It’s joined. We have been in communication with the surveyor and are still waiting. There’s going to be a lift going up and down attached to the wall.”

However, he welcomed the scheme as a whole.

He said: “It’s all interesting and exciting. The whole thing is going through a big change.

“We have been neglected a little bit with everything happening in East Street.”

Westrock’s plans dubbed the “West End” scheme also includes the redevelopment of the area west of Albion Way.

That part, which will bring a John Lewis at Home and larger Waitrose to Horsham, has already received planning permission and is on schedule to start in August.

Horsham District Council is still considering plans for Bishop Weald House.