Open North Street, Midhurst
The fire at the Angel Hotel in the middle of North Street, Midhurst on the 16th March has effectively closed this market town to commerce. The road closure on the street affects traffic along the A272 running East to West and along the A286 running North to South. A multi-agency recovery group has been set up to open the road as soon as possible yet a month later no action has been taken.
This petition is to urge Gillian Keegan to request the Government to step in and open North Street without delay.
The road closure doesn’t just affect the lives of the people living in and around the town. It is having a crippling effect on the businesses in the town and will affect the commercial enterprises in the wider community that depend on the throughput of traffic in West Sussex, notably the tourism and the hospitality industries, such as Cowdray Polo, Weald & Downland Living Museum, Goodwood and their sponsors.
South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) and Historic England (HE) released a statement of intent to secure some parts of the Angel Hotel and the adjoining Olive and Vine property. This statement stated that the properties were to be shored up over the ensuing 6 weeks and on completion the road can re-open but a month after the fire there has been no work.
There is a precedent. In Eastbourne 2019 there was a fire at the Claremont Hotel, an important landmark, the façade remained, the road was closed for months until it was later demolished.
We recognise that The Angel was a landmark in Midhurst, however the importance of the façade must be balanced with what is happening in the country. Our economy is in meltdown, inflation is at 10%. Businesses are recovering from lock down over a 2-year period. The emergency loans that resulted from lock down and sustained those businesses still need repaying. Meanwhile electricity costs have risen by 450% even accounting for EBRS. And as a result of the Road Closure trade in the town is down 70-80%. Businesses cannot sustain such a long period with this level of reduced income.
If traffic lights are required following the re-opening the tail back during the summer months will be extensive and Midhurst will be avoided once more extending the lack of revenue.
Midhurst is a tourist destination, “the heart of the South Downs National Park”, it is endowed with old buildings and charm, but without shops there is no heart. Sign this petition NOW, support the businesses in the town, those in the wider community and the hospitality industry in West Sussex.
We need the Government to persuade SDNPA and HE that however important the façade is, NOW is not the time to prevaricate to save buildings. NOW is the time to support the community. NOW is the time to “Knock It Down & Save Our Town”
James Macgregor Contact the author of the petition