Plans are being put in place to boost business for local traders and create an improved and safe post lockdown experience for customers in Horsham Town Centre.
Horsham District Council is planning to improve trading conditions for restaurants and cafes in the East Street and Market Square areas of the town centre by extending daytime traffic restrictions until the evenings, enabling them to have socially distanced tables and chairs outside their premises for longer.
The move, which has been welcomed by traders, will also create a more appealing and safer environment for customers whilst the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions still apply.
It is proposed that the traffic free hours are extended in East Street and the Market Square from the current 10.30am to 4.30pm to 10.30am to 10.30pm and that traffic restrictions in nearby Park Place are introduced for the first time from 10.30am to 10.30pm.
Cyclists will be exempt from these new restrictions and therefore still able to cycle through the East Street area.
These measures will also increase social distancing for pedestrians in these relatively narrow streets.
Additionally, in order to support Horsham Markets, market stalls for crafts, collectibles, jewellery and non- food products will now trade from the Market Square to benefit from the increased footfall the town is experiencing in this area.
Commenting on the measures the Council’s Cabinet Member for the Local Economy Cllr Paul Clarke said:
“The pandemic has affected every business in our District and many have seen their livelihoods suffer. I wish to thank all our businesses for working so hard with us to get our recovery plans in place.
“It’s great to be welcoming everyone back to the town and to see so many people reassured that Horsham is a safe place to be.
“We are sure that these additional traffic restriction steps will significantly improve the evening dining experience for customers in the East Street area and improve pedestrian flow. We are really excited to see our unique range of hospitality businesses finally able to re-open.”
The steps form just part of an overall programme of features the Council’s Economic Development team has put in place to adhere to Government guidelines regarding the safe opening of and access to local retail outlets and businesses. Theses have included: the creation of comprehensive signage for shops and directional street and pavement markings enabling shoppers to observe social distancing. Further signage has been used in car parks and public toilets, all aiming to guide and reassure the public.
A digital map has been produced for every town centre throughout the District to indicate which public toilets are open for use.
The Council continues to work with local task forces across the District in each market town centre to introduce bespoke safety schemes.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Council has supported many traders in a variety of ways such as switching their distribution methods to online sales solutions, including takeaways, click and collect, and home delivery services.
Additional funding of £128,132 was allocated to the Council to support the safe re-opening of high streets and other retail spaces.