New lease of life for Midhurst

MIDHURST will receive £10,000 of government funding for town centre improvement despite an unsuccessful bid to become a Portas Pilot Town.

This means, although the town wasn’t chosen as one of the 24 pilot towns following a government report from High Street guru Mary Portas, Midhurst will still get some funding and access to support from other pilot towns.

The new Midhurst Town Team has been formed to support the town centre’s economy and recently held its inaugural meeting at Capron House.

John Quilter, chairman of the Midhurst Town Team, said: “Like all smaller towns in the UK, Midhurst will have to work hard in the years ahead to ensure it retains a vibrant and viable town centre.

“The teamwork that was put in to the Portas Pilot applications showed how committed people in this town are to its future.

“We will build on the great foundation built by projects such as the shop front improvement, new public notice boards in North Street and The Grange car parks, purchase of safety barriers to enable the markets to be held in North Street and the production of a shopping map for town visitors.

“A key part of our application to the Portas project was to increase the awareness of the Old Town to visitors and to improve its sense of identity by gateway signage at West Street and Knockhundred Row.

“The forthcoming government financing will enable us to make a start on this.”

The Town Team includes members from local retailers, the Midhurst Reward Card group, The Spread Eagle Hotel, Cowdray Estate, Midhurst Rother College, The Midhurst Town Trust, The Midhurst Society, The South Downs National Park Authority, West Sussex County, Chichester District and Midhurst Town Councils, Cowdray Heritage Trust, independent marketing consultants and the Midhurst Tourism Partnership.

They have drawn up a two-year action plan and have already started working on projects concerned with signage improvement, markets, some exciting special events and retail property.

Mr Quilter continued: “In the period from 2012 to 2014, Midhurst will have seen investment of the order of £40m in Midhurst Rother College, The New Grange, The Market Square restoration and the additional infrastructure works associated with them.

“This gives Midhurst a fantastic opportunity to become a real focal point for West Sussex north of the downs and the Town Team is excited by the prospects.”