New plan to safeguard historic Midhurst

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An amended scheme to improve the environment of the historic core of Midhurst was unveiled to the residents and businesses of the old town area on Tuesday, March 29.

A display outside Garton’s Cafe in Market Square was set up by members of MOTRA – Midhurst Old Town Residents’ Association – to explain the changes which had been made in response to controversy over the previous plan.

The new scheme has resulted from discussions between West Sussex County Council, which will fund part of it, Midhurst Town Trust, which owns Market Square and will share footing the bill, Midhurst Town Council and representatives of residents and businesses.

It is due to go before the county’s North Chichester County Local Committee on April 7, for approval, which would give the green light to a proposed start in January.

In essence, the committee will be asked to give their blessing to a width-restriction zone in a move to stop lorries cutting through the old town, unless they specifically need access.

The measure follows repetitive damage caused to historic buildings such as the Spread Eagle Hotel and the Swan pub by oversized HGVs trying to negotiate the route.

Removal of the one-hour limited parking in Edinburgh Square and South Street, making it easier for residents to park outside their homes, is also proposed.

A residents’ permit scheme may follow at some stage in the future.

There will also be an extension of the ‘no waiting at any time’ in Red Lion Street and two-hour limited parking bays will be replaced with a one-hour limit between the Swan and the war memorial.

Some original elements of the scheme will remain, including a ban on parking west of the parish church lychgate in the square itself, de-cluttering it and enhancing its appearance.

Other elements will go, including the highly-controversial plan to make part of West Street one-way.

David Duncan, from MOTRA, said everything in the scheme could be done quite quickly and there had been a high level of agreement between the county council and those it consulted.

“Not everyone got all they wanted. Some wanted to remove vehicles from the area altogether but you cannot do that. There is only one alternative road which is Rumbolds Hill and if that is closed for some reason, there is nowhere else,” Mr Duncan said.

Heather Finch, who lives in South Street, said the proposals were ‘distinctly better’ than the original plan. Removal of time-limited parking in South Street and Edinburgh Square would be welcomed by residents.

The county local committee meets on Thursday, April 7, from 7pm, at Capron House, Midhurst. Displays of the proposed scheme will be in the foyer of Capron House from 6.30pm.