What will Horsham town centre look like by 2030?
An exhibition inviting people to have their say on the future of the town is set to take place next month.
Horsham Blueprint will be hosting a workshop in Swan Walk shopping centre to ask residents what they enjoy about the town and what they would like to see improved in the next few years.
The forum, supported by the County Times, was approved by Horsham District Council back in June last year and is in charge of creating a Horsham Neighbourhood Plan.
Francis Haigh, chairman of Horsham Blueprint, said: “Neighbourhood planning is the next level down from the Horsham District Planning Framework.
‘‘The only way we can try and control what goes in in the town centre is by founding a neighbourhood forum like this.”
Horsham Blueprint covers the area of the town centre which is not under the remit of any parish council.
Since it was approved the forum has spoken to residents and businesses to find out what is important to them.
From the survey four major areas of the town have been highlighted for improvement.
The first was the Bishopric and in particular the future of the Shelly Fountain.
Mrs Haigh said: “There is very little support for keeping the Shelly Fountain.
“There was a suggestion we asked Hannah Stewart - the artist who created the dragon sculpture in Horsham Park maze and the Iguanodon statue in Southwater - to put a new sculpture up there.
“Other suggestions include more planting. A very keen theme is to have more planting in the town centre.
“In its heyday the Shelley Fountain was used as a meeting place.
‘‘Now it is neglected and not working it is not doing the town any favours so that area needs to be redeveloped so people want to come in, see it and meet friends.”
Many residents have also asked for improvements to Piries Place with people calling for a new supermarket on the eastern side of town.
Mrs Haigh said: “We have had huge concern about the loss of the supermarket in Piries Place.
“While we all welcome John Lewis and Waitrose it is on the other side of town.
‘‘The cycling is dire and it is a long way, so walking is difficult for some.
‘‘We have had suggestions like can we have a circular bus route across to that part of town.
“Some people also suggested Piries Place should be a restaurant area of the town.”
Queen Street has been an area of concern for many.
In the survey business have asked for the area to be turned into a village retail destination and to bring back the old Queen Street Traders Association.
Others have suggested a regeneration plan is created so the area can be redeveloped with a mixture of housing, business and retail.
Mrs Haigh added: “We are hoping local architects will come up with some sketches of what could be done.”
The final area of interest to residents was the future of Hurst Road.
But the plan is not just specified to these areas.
Mrs Haigh said she wanted people to come to the exhibition to give their ideas and opinions on these and any other parts of the town which people felt needed to be saved or improved.
She said: “It is still going to be very much a chance for people to say what they want to see and show which ideas are right for them.
‘‘It will be your Horsham, that’s the lovely part of it.
‘‘Everybody who lives here and works here having their say on how the town is going to develop.”
The exhibition will be held from April 8 until April 10.
For more information visit www.horshamblueprint.btck.co.uk
What matters for residents and business
Horsham Blueprint, which is in charge of creating the Horsham Neighbourhood Plan, has been speaking to residents and businesses about what is important to them in the town.
Surveys carried out by the forum have discovered four key elements people would like to see improved.
An ‘age friendly Horsham’ was top of the list.
Frances Haigh, chairman of Horsham Blueprint, said: “We take that to mean all ages.
‘‘If you get it right for older people you get it right for families and the disabled too.
“It is everything from the cobbles in the Carfax, access into the town, where we have sheltered housing and can you cross the road using a white stick?”
She added the forum was also being asked to look for ways to improve facilities for young people.
Problems with walking and cycling in the town were also raised by many.
The forum said it wanted to improve the ease and accessibly to the town by bike or by walking as it was cheaper, healthier and more sustainable.
It also said a focus on this would be able to decrease the problem of parking, which was also raised by quite a few surveyed.
Mrs Haigh said this was an area the Blueprint team were keen to hear more about which areas were most in need of improving.
Local business have asked for improvements to be made to digital access and improving technology in the town.
The forum said it was looking to build a ‘digital hub’ to encourage more investment in IT and attract more companies working in the technology field.
Mrs Haigh said: “We are working with Red River Software, Creative Assembly, Hack Horsham and Tanbridge House School as we want to get more jobs in technology in the local area.”
Protecting and creating heritage sites and open spaces were also big priorities from many surveyed with concerns raised about many sites including Chesworth Farm and Prewetts Mill.
Competition for town designs
Horsham Blueprint is running a competition throughout March asking residents to send in their designs of what they would like to see in the town by 2030.
It will be split into three categories, under 11s, 11 to 16-year-olds and adults, and entries can be of any area of the town centre.
Designs can be hand drawn, painted or created in Minecraft and all entries will displayed at the Imagine Horsham event in Swan Walk in April.
The best designs in each category will be judged, with winners picking up a host of prizes.
You can send your entries to Horsham Blueprint, Unit 10, MBE Horsham, 33 Queen Street, RH13 5AA.
The forum says on it website, ‘The Forum is for everyone who lives in, or works in, or runs a business in Horsham Town un-parished area. It is first and foremost for the community, whether you are new to the town or have lived here all your life.’
For more visit http://www.horshamblueprint.btck.co.uk/