Helping Town Centres to Thrive

It was a pleasure to visit Horsham Museum on Saturday and see Jeremy Knight who does a great job in presenting a constantly evolving pattern of exhibitions.  

Three are on display at present: history of Causeway House itself as it hits 600 years old; a presentation of Horsham after the Great War - a time of great change and, lastly, an exhibition of the work of Dr Geoffrey Sparrow, a local sporting artist who also captured many of his North Street patients in caricature and scenes of Horsham life in the mid 20th century.  

The exhibitions provide stark evidence of how much the town has changed - and how important it is that we maintain the character of the town while ensuring we continue to thrive as an independent market town notwithstanding the constant pressures of having London, the most economically productive city on earth, in such close orbit. 

On Friday I saw Simon Pringle CEO of Red River, software designers and one of Horsham’s hugely successful cutting edge SMEs, to discuss the proposed Horsham Business Improvement District (BID).

BIDs are business led and business funded, set up to help drive improvements to an area and help town centres thrive.

There are currently 320 UK BIDs it is hoped that Horsham businesses can also come together to find ways to keep the town centre as a thriving employment hub as well as being a focus for shopping and leisure, and for the provision of local services. 

The idea is timely.  Throughout the UK patterns of retail are changing.  This week’s news focussed on the Government’s proposals to increase tax on internet retail in part to help level the playing field with “bricks and mortar” shops but if consumers continue to switch to internet shopping this will inevitably have an impact on the High Street.  

Having a mix of employment, housing, retail and leisure in our town centres (the same model that worked for centuries) has to provide a sound foundation for the future.

The Horsham BID Steering Group have been granted £70,000 from Horsham District Council to come up with a pilot scheme and are looking to kick start the project this week. 

 

Photo Credit: Jeremy recently visited Skylarks in North Heath Lane, Horsham.  The residential home is offering visitors a carefully formulated experience, using goggles and aids, to appreciate better what it is like to live with early stage dementia.  A really good way to help spread understanding of the condition.