VIDEO: Exhibition to find out more about West Street improvements

People have been giving their views about how Horsham District Council should spend £500,000 on West Street during a three day staffed exhibition which started today (Thursday).

Plans are well underway for an exciting enhancement project for Horsham’s West Street, which sees Horsham District Council linking closely with various different partners to improve the town centre experience.

Horsham's West Street - a good mix of shops?

Horsham's West Street - a good mix of shops?

The project is taking place after Horsham District Council secured funding from West Sussex County Council’s ‘Kick-Start’ Programme towards the end of 2012.

The District Council has been awarded £500,000 to be used to uplift the street’s public realm, with improvements being made to hard and soft landscaping, street furniture, signage and lighting, including community safety improvements.

There are three options of how the council plans to spend the money and the council

A staffed exhibition in the vacant unit opposite Waterstones in Middle Street, Horsham for businesses and residents proved popular with people today and continues tomorrow March 8, 10am to 4pm and Saturday March 9 10am to 4pm.

Various options will be displayed and feedback will be welcomed and staff will be on hand to answer questions.

There will also be an opportunity for people to view options and share their views on the Horsham District Council website between Thursday March 7 and Friday March 15. Details will be promoted on the Council’s website, facebook and Twitter pages in advance.

The whole initiative in West Street is being steered by the cabinet member for Horsham Town, Helena Croft, who chairs a ‘Project Board’, which has wider representation from groups and partners with a clear involvement and interest in West Street and the town.

The board is made up of a Horsham town centre ward councillor as well as officers from Horsham District Council, a West Sussex County councillor and its Kick-Start Programme Manager, Horsham Unlimited (the Town Centre Business Partnership), the town Community Partnership, Denne Neighbourhood Council, the Horsham Society, Crickmay Chartered Surveyors and Wakefields Jewellers, representing the business community voice as a West Street business and having been in the town for over 100 years.

Cabinet member for Horsham town, special projects and communications Helena Croft (Con, Roffey North) from Horsham District Council said: “This is a very exciting opportunity to really enhance and lift the whole of Horsham’s main high street.

”Working in conjunction with all the interested parties in the town, I’m confident that this will bring a much needed boost to our local economy.”

The changes will underpin the street’s role as a major retail destination in its own right, supporting existing businesses and helping to attract new private investment and businesses to the area.

Improvements to lighting will also contribute to providing a safe and welcoming environment to enhance the evening economy.

The agreed bid also contained certain objectives to be met which include business support, job creation and skills development. Horsham District Council will seek to use local contractors and suppliers wherever possible.

The scheme will be complementary to any proposed development west of Albion Way by ensuring a holistic approach to design and functionality. The project delivery team are in discussions with the developer - Westrock - to ensure the most joined up approach and synergy through any development and enhancements to the area.

Timescales will differ considerably however, with the West Street enhancement implementation scheduled over a 12 week period between mid August and late October, with strong consideration given to minimal disruption for businesses, particularly in the lead up to the busy Christmas period.

Roger Paterson, Horsham District Council’s cabinet member for the local economy, said: “This is a very exciting project to revitalise West Street and is designed to attract both existing and new shoppers and visitors to Horsham.

”The partnership working between Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council, together with numerous stakeholders involved, particularly Horsham Unlimited, will I’m sure create a very successful project which will be widely appreciated by local residents.”

Gill Buchanan, chairman of Horsham Unlimited and Swan Walk Centre Manager, who sits on the Project Board said: “West Street is critical to the success of Horsham being not just a retail destination in its own right but also the link between East Street, Bishopric, The Forum and Swan Walk.

“The planned improvements will put the somewhat tired and dated area back on the map and I believe if delivered successfully the scheme will have a pebble effect across the town in terms of customer circulation and dwell time.

“Café culture, lighter brighter street scene, seating zones and opening sight lines will encourage customers to stay longer in the town centre which will in turn increase spend in stores and improve the overall shopping experience.

“I would expect and encourage all West Street businesses to look at their own store frontages and to ensure that they are making the best possible first impression so that by October the improved standards and environment run through the whole West Street shopping experience.”