A major redevelopment of Horsham’s Piries Place, including a new cinema and hotel, was approved last night (Tuesday February 7).
A three-screen Everyman cinema is set to open at the site of the former Waitrose store, alongside new retail, restaurant, and drinking establishments.
Horsham District Council’s Planning Committee North approved the application on Tuesday night (February 7), despite concerns over the scale and design of a 92-bed Premier Inn hotel.
These were echoed by Horsham Denne Neighbourhood Council, and the Horsham Society.
Trudie Mitchell, chair of the neighbourhood council, pointed out the fact the applicant had made some changes to the scheme after feedback, but the hotel was ‘detrimental to the ambience of the conservation area’.
Meanwhile Ronald Bates, from the Horsham Society, added: “We have significant concerns about the appearance of the hotel as an uncompromising box.”
But Will Rohleder, speaking for one of the applicants Reef Estates, argued the scheme would ‘add to our place creation ambitions’ revitalising Piries Place from its current ‘vacant tired’ state, as well as creating 150 new jobs.
Local member Adrian Lee (Con, Denne) said: “I think this represents an exciting opportunity for Horsham town and the broader district. We have heard it will create additional employment opportunities and it certainly improves the local economy.”
Tony Hogben (Con, Denne) added: “Piries Place is in need of a redesign and Reef is willing to invest millions of pounds in it.”
Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater), cabinet member for planning and development, said: “I agree with both local members. I think this part of town is in desperate need of regeneration.”
Jonathan Dancer (Con, Roffey North) agreed that economic development was ‘badly needed’ in this part of town, but echoed concerns about the design of the hotel. He said: “It’s not a piece of architecture that we could look back on in 20 years time and say: ‘We were on the committee when that was approved, what a joy’.”
David Skipp (LDem, Horsham Park) added: “Piries Place has been an eyesore for some time and I think it’s really positive that we have a plan that’s going to reinvigorate that area.”