Your headline in last week’s County Times suggested that John Lewis may be the anchor store in a £35m transformation of the town centre, and your leader praised the scheme as ‘marvellous news’.
Unfortunately all is not as simple as you suggest. First there is no evidence that John Lewis plans a Horsham store.
It is however an open secret that Waitrose is looking to relocate to a much larger site and it is far more likely it is the hoped for tenant.
If the plans go ahead there will be three other much smaller units, none of which would be big enough for a proper John Lewis.
But speculation about a possible tenant is much less important than the design of the proposed development itself which is wholly unsatisfactory and would drain the life out of the rest of the town centre.
It is only five months since the council adopted the Horsham Town Plan setting out its vision for future development including this area to the west of the town centre.
The latest proposals completely fail to meet these requirements.
Instead of the comprehensive redevelopment that the council sought, in order to regenerate the west side of Bishopric and create new larger retail units closely linked to the rest of the town centre, this is simply a piecemeal development cobbled together using three available sites.
It will do nothing to regenerate the western arm of Bishopric.
It fails to provide an adequate solution to the problem of Albion Way which will separate it from the rest of the town centre.
Shoppers parking in the the new store will not make the trek down and across Albion Way, and up Bishopric and West Street to reach the town centre. They will simply drive in, shop and drive off without providing any benefit to the wider town economy.
It would in effect be an out-of-town shopping centre.
We have told the developer what we think and also made Horsham District Council aware of our concerns.
The scheme must go back to the drawing board.
on behalf of The Horsham Society, Old Denne Gardens, Horsham