Probably like everyone else, I’ve been waiting with bated breath to see what would finally be unveiled in the Waitrose and John Lewis development in Horsham.
My initial impressions were from all the publicity that the stores were designed primarily for car users so I decided to find out what it was like for pedestrians, especially those who had to cross Albion Way.
I approached the stores from the Sainsbury’s car park and crossed Albion Road using the pedestrian crossing near the Staples and Currys stores. I walked up the west side of Albion Way and encountered my first problem.
How could I safely get across the road which forms the vehicular access for customers entering and exiting the site? The simple answer was with caution and really there should be a pedestrian crossing at this point. I must admit that I opted to walk onto the site via the car access route as it seemed to be the safest way in the circumstances.
I had a look around the stores and they were what one would expect from such a prestigious development. It was then time for me to go into the town as I wanted to see how easy it would be to do this.
My first attempt was to follow what I’d seen displayed on the hoardings in Bishopric, namely to go down the steps from the car park and go straight across Albion Way. As you know, there isn’t a pedestrian crossing at this point and the narrow dividing barrier in the centre has quite a slope on it. Having watched a few people try this crossing route I decided it wasn’t for me. There should be some sort of barrier to deter people from attempting this crossing.
Instead, I turned left at the bottom of the steps and walked up to the pedestrian crossing at Bishopric. You’ll recall that the development was supposed to be accompanied by a single phase crossing at this point.
Unfortunately, there’s still no sign of that and we’re stuck with the old two phase crossing. As always, the lights are set so in favour of the traffic that they seem to take forever to change for pedestrians. Not too surprisingly, the chicken run across Albion Way remains the most efficient and attractive way to cross this busy dual carriageway.
As it stands at present, I would be surprised if the new Waitrose / John Lewis stores bring much extra footfall into the town centre. I know that I wouldn’t cross Albion Way by choice using the options that are currently on offer. It’s a real shame that the opening of the stores wasn’t accompanied by an improvement in the pedestrian crossing points.
Let’s hope that something is done soon, which encourages people to safely move in both directions across Albion Way. We badly need this new development to bring additional trade into the existing town centre rather than just to increase the number of vehicles using Albion Way to get to the stores.
Swindon Road, Horsham
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