Traders and employers have backed the creation of a business improvement district in Horsham, with the promise of a £1.5 million boost for the town.
The investment – over the coming five years – will be funded by a levy, on top of business rates, with bosses aiming to set up the business improvement district (BID) from April.
Horsham District Council said: “Businesses and organisations in Horsham town centre have made their voices heard and have voted in favour of taking more control over their futures by setting up a business improvement district.
“Ballot results released by the independent scrutineer, Civica Election Services, revealed that 77 per cent of all those who voted are in favour of the BID progressing.
“For the BID to be successful, a second trigger ‘majority by rateable value’ was also required and this was achieved with 53 per cent of those who voted.
“It is anticipated that the BID will commence from April 2024 for a five-year term and will be financed through a BID levy.
“The proceeds will be invested in the town centre and on the additional projects that businesses have identified and as set out in the Horsham Business Plan.
“Over the five years of the BID, some £1.5 million will be generated to be spent in the BID area.”
Similar schemes have been set up elsewhere including in Crawley, Worthing, Chichester and Brighton. The BID in Brighton has more than 500 member firms and funds, among other things, the Christmas lights.
A recent Horsham BID newsletter highlighted safety and security among other possibilities. It said: “The majority of you are telling us that anti-social behaviour in the town centre is driving some of your customer base away and your staff can feel unsafe leaving work late at night.
“In addition, for many businesses, shoplifting is a big problem and something that you would want addressed.
“This could include increased CCTV coverage, increased lighting down alleyways and a security presence throughout the town centre at certain times of day.”
After the ballot result was announced, BID Task Group chair India De Silva Jeffries, who is also a local business owner, said: “This a fantastic result for all involved and allows Horsham to improve still further over the next five years through the proposals detailed in our plan.
“I would like to thank all involved for their time and support in making a real difference to Horsham’s future.”
BID project manager Rachel Noel said: “I am obviously delighted with the result and thank all the businesses who have shared their thoughts and ideas with me and the BID Task Group on how to make Horsham an even better business environment.
“The real work starts now in delivering the new initiatives and the team aim to get started immediately in forming the new BID company and adding in the extra value to our town.”