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District Dispatch - 4 April 2023

We are continuing to encourage people to visit Midhurst and support local businesses, following the major hotel fire at The Angel Inn hotel and neighbouring buildings.

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The majority of businesses on North Street are 'open for business' and can all be accessed on foot from nearby car parks. We are offering free parking in Chichester District Council car parks in Midhurst until the end of 16 April 2023 and are currently working on other forms of support, which we will be announcing soon. £300,000 has been set aside by the council to help the town recover. We have also set up a recovery group with local businesses, which involves meetings, updates, and funding for marketing and promotional purposes to support the town.

Midhurst not only boasts an excellent array of local and independent businesses, but it will also be hosting a busy programme of events this spring, and so please do show your support if you are able to do so.

If you are a resident or business in the town, you may be interested to know that we are holding two drop-in information sessions in Midhurst. These will take place on Thursday 6 April (10am-12pm) and Wednesday 12 April (2pm-4pm) and will be held at the South Downs National Park Authority offices. Chichester District Council staff from the Supporting You, Economic Development and Social Prescribing services will be on hand to provide information and help.

All of the agencies involved, including Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council, West Sussex Fire and Rescue; Midhurst Town Council and the South Downs National Park Authority, are committed to doing everything they can to reopen the road to vehicles as soon as possible and helping Midhurst to recover from this dreadful incident. For the latest updates on this, please visit our latest news column.

In other news, I want to make you aware of a scheme that is available to help Chichester District residents and both small and medium-sized businesses to purchase high quality solar panels at a competitive price.

The council has teamed up with iChoosr and West Sussex County Council to open this group-buying scheme, offering residents and businesses the opportunity to access affordable solar panels and batteries.

There are two opportunities for residents to register for the scheme, with the first round of applications now open until 21 April 2023. Households whose properties are thought to be suitable for the scheme are being contacted by letter to make them aware of the opportunity. However, anyone who is interested in joining the scheme can register their interest. Residents can register through Solar Together's website (opens new window) before 21 April 2023.

A reverse 'auction' will then take place in which approved solar installers will bid for the work — the most competitive offer, from these pre-vetted installers, will win the auction. Following this, residents who have applied will be emailed a personal recommendation for their home based on the details provided during registration, which will include the costs and specifications for a complete solar panel installation. Residents can then decide whether they want to accept their recommendation, with no obligation to continue. They have four weeks to accept, and if they do so, the winning installer will contact them to survey their roof and set an installation date. It's planned that all installations should then be completed within six months of accepting the quote.

Installations will generally not need planning permission. However, in some cases, such as in Conservation Areas and on Listed Buildings, planning permission may be required. For planning advice please visit our planning permissions webpage.

If residents already have solar panels installed on their home, they can also register to have battery storage added to their existing solar panels to maximise the benefits of their system.

To keep up to date with the very latest news from the council, please make sure you sign up to our email newsletter.

Best wishes

Diane Shepherd

Chief Executive, Chichester District Council