IT’S been nearly two years in the making and townspeople, businesses and visitors have all had their say.
Now the ideas that are set to shape the future of Petworth’s economic prospects have been put together in a Petworth Vision document.
The aim was to achieve physical improvements to the town, support traders and improve the survival and profitability of shops.
It has been months of hard work by the long list of partner organisations and contributors.
They are Chichester District Council, the town council, the business association Petworth and District Community Association, Petworth House, the South Downs National park Authority, and of course residents and businesses.
Now the final proposals are ready to go to a public meeting organised by the Petworth Vision Steering Group in the Leconfield Hall on January 7.
Residents in Petworth are being invited to attend and hear how their ideas for improving the town will be put into practice as part of the new Petworth Vision.
The steering group will discuss how to best achieve the proposals set out and how to attract funding.
But, in advance of the January meeting, the Vision document will have its first outing this Saturday during the town’s Christmas party and the switch-on of the Christmas tree lights.
The emerging Neighbourhood Plan will also be on show.
To improve the management of the town, a Petworth Vision co-ordinator is being engaged who together with landlords and agents, will work to ‘improve the retail mix’.
The market town of Petworth has a unique character with its cobbled streets and historic buildings and is shaped by trading activities over 1,000 years.
The town developed round the 16th-century market square which today forms part of the busy through route on the A272.
This has brought with it the problem of a high volume of traffic, including the ongoing nightmare of heavy lorries.
The much-vaunted lorry route had a limited success, but has failed to silence all the criticism.
“A great opportunity exists for Petworth to use this rich heritage and its wonderful buildings to encourage visitors to enjoy the old town with a new experience,” says the Vision.
“The hard part is respecting the old yet still encouraging an attractive, modern interpretation. Getting this right will go a long way to giving Petworth a successful future.”
Projects to achieve this include:
- Establishing a ‘gateway’ from the main car park to encourage visitors to explore the town
- Consider potential new layout of spaces in the car park to enable closer disabled and short-stay parking to offset any loss of short stay parking in Market Square
- Establish appropriate areas for cycle racks between the car park and the Old Bakery.
- A project group is being established to develop options for Market Square and Golden Square to address ‘the need to alter the ratio of pedestrians to car space’.
Projects to make the town centre more ‘pedestrian friendly’ include:
- Signs on the approach roads warning of the need for care and speed reduction due to the narrow streets.
- Speed limit reductions such as ‘20’s plenty, rumble strips, bottlenecks and white lines.
- Reduce the number of HGVs through the centre of town by way of an ‘effective protocol’ between businesses and delivery companies.
The Vision group also wants to make it easier for motorists and pedestrians to find their way around without too much sign clutter.
They plan to carry out a signage audit, co-ordinate clear logical signs for cars and people, improve noticeboards and produce a ‘you are here’ map with advertising space.
A programme of refurbishment of bollards and street furniture is in the pipeline, together with increased planting around the town of plantpots and hanging baskets.
Full story see the Midhurst and Petworth Observer Thursday, December 4