SHOULD there be a ban on traffic flowing down East Street in Horsham in a bid to ‘create more of a cafe culture’.
A majority of traders on the bustling street have been campaigning for this change since the part-pedestrianistion was put in place.
Now West Sussex County Council (WSCC) says new traffic control proposals will be discussed by the North Horsham County Local Committee (CLC) at a meeting on Monday March 12.
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The proposed new Traffic Regulation Order would ban all vehicles from East Street during core shopping hours.
The trial is expected to run for more than a year and will mean East Street and Market Square will be completely traffic-free between 10.30am and 4pm.
Outside of these hours the area would be accessible for loading and unloading and blue badge holders.
The proposals have strong backing as a recent survey conducted among East Street traders revealed the majority are in favour of closure. A total of 21 traders out of the street’s 32 responded to the consultation letter.
Those wanting some form of closure amounted to 18, but Beer Essentials, St Catherine’s Hospice and the Horsham Music shop all oppose a street closure - which it is believed would be widely welcomed by the public.
Chris Holt, owner of La Source and member of the East Street Traders Group, said: “It should be closed.
“In my view it has been frustrating for our customers and it’s been frustrating for businesses who have been affected by large vehicles parking in front of our shops.
“To our surprise in the run up to Christmas when we closed some of the loading bays on the grounds of safety the footfall of affected businesses improved. The Saturdays that followed were widely accepted by retailers as being a great boost to their trade.”
But the news has not been welcomed by a minority of traders, some of whom rely on deliveries at all different times of the day.
Dawn Williams, shop manager of St Catherine’s Hospice, said: “We are a charity, times are hard enough already.
“We rely on donations from the public and they need to be able to come down and drop things off, especially if they’re heavy.
“We need to help our customers as much as possible in that sense.”
Early daily observations by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) suggest that the part-pedestrianisation has reduced the number of vehicles entering from 331 to 80, illegal through traffic from 195 to 32, deliveries to shops from 60 to 30, blue badge parking from 15 to six, and parking contraventions from 61 to 12. Meanwhile it claims footfall has inreased by six per cent.
The new measures will be monitored by Horsham District Council and the CLC will receive an update report detailing any objections after six months.
CLC Committee chairman Brad Watson OBE said: “We have been very pleased with the improvements already introduced in East Street and many traders have reported an increase in the number of people visiting the area. We want to build on this and encourage even more people to enjoy the area.”
The CLC meets at 7pm on Monday March 12 in the Goodwood Room at County Hall North, Chart Way, Horsham.
The group will also decide whether to go ahead with the introduction of double yellow lines on Oak Tree Way, Redkiln Way, Comptons Lane and Comptons Brow Lane, Horsham, and a controlled pedestrian crossing on Station Road, Billingshurst.
In addition the committee will feature the popular Talk with Us open forum where members of the public can raise issues and ask questions.