The news of Starbucks in Horsham closing down has come as a surprise. Many greeted it with sadness, but no doubt a few are delighted to see one less global chain in town.
Having previously discussed how we might support independent retailers, I am left wondering what message has been sent when one of the world’s largest coffee chains will not rent property in Horsham. Colour me pessimistic if I suggest we are waiting for the other shoe to drop. They were not the only retailer leasing property and I wonder what is on the minds of other tenants on hearing this news.
Costs are rising or it may be a symptom of a market which is freely adjusting to demand despite the desires of its consumers. It would be lazy punditry to accuse landlords of being greedy or that they may have set rates too high, while we might admonish them for not taking a long-term view in having ‘half of something’ rather than ‘all of nothing’.
In conversations I have read and heard, there is a continued lack of a coherent ‘community voice’. Through planning reports and presentations, it is presented what Horsham shall be and how it shall prosper – though this rarely seems in lockstep with public opinion.
If we trust that a market town with its many boutique outlets and independent retailers will draw both income and an audience, then we should have a town centre designed for the possible continual turnaround of vacant units.
If we want more music venues and more festivals, then parking, restaurants and transit should be our focus – and with it the gallons of teas and coffees required to lubricate the roadies accompanying the acts.
If we want to encourage new business for an internet era, then we need faster broadband and better rural broadband to go with it.
In having considered these few options, I wonder why we cannot have all of them. What does Horsham want to be?