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Residents and visitors urged to support Midhurst businesses following major fire

Local residents and visitors are being encouraged to support businesses as work continues to help Midhurst recover following last month's hotel fire at The Angel Inn hotel and neighbouring buildings.

People visiting Midhurst this Saturday 15 April could be in with a chance of winning between £5 and £250 worth of vouchers to spend in independent shops in the town. Between 10am and 3pm, the Midhurst Town Team will be handing out over 400 envelopes of 'Midhurst Pounds' outside Stockley Trading near the North Street car park. The vouchers will be handed out on a first come, first served basis and can be used until 31 May 2023. For more information, visit the Midhurst Business Network Facebook page (opens new window).

A multi-agency recovery group, which includes Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Midhurst Town Council and the South Downs National Park Authority, is working hard to support the town. The partners involved are urging people to support Midhurst by shopping and spending in the town, which boasts an excellent array of local and independent businesses, the vast majority of which are 'open for business' and can all be accessed on foot.

In consultation and agreement with the Business Recovery Group, Midhurst Town Team and Midhurst Town Council, following feedback from Midhurst businesses, Chichester District Council has been offering free parking for a period of a month (up until the end of 16 April) in order to help support residents and businesses in the first few weeks following the fire. From Monday 17 April, people can still access periods of free parking in The Grange car park, where they can benefit from two hours free parking per day, or in either the Post Office and North Street car parks, where they will receive an hour free per day. Customers will need to display a ticket or use MiPermit to obtain their stay (even during the free period). People can easily extend their stay by using the parking machines or using MiPermit (opens new window).

Residents and visitors looking to travel into Midhurst by bus, can currently access single bus tickets for £2 on the vast majority of routes in the district as part of the Government's bus cap scheme, which will run until 30 June 2023. Please note that bus services in Midhurst are currently unable to serve Midhurst Bus Station, and so services 60, 91, 92 & 93 will now depart from a temporary bus stop at The Grange Leisure Centre / Library Car Park. For updates, visit the Stagecoach service update webpage (opens new window). In addition, The 'traveline' website (opens new window) shows customers whether a particular bus journey is part of the £2 fare scheme and also provides live updates on the bus services.

To support Midhurst businesses during this difficult time, Chichester District Council has set up a business recovery group, which involves weekly meetings, updates, and plans on how funding should be spent to support the town in its recovery. Chichester District Council has set aside £300,000 to help the town get back on its feet and encourage residents and visitors to support local businesses in Midhurst. Further information about this support can be found in our previous update.

One of the initiatives being developed is a grant scheme for Midhurst businesses and this will be available next week. This scheme is not related to business rates, which are determined by the government and which have separate support schemes available — anyone wishing to know more about this, can visit our business rate guidance and advice page and the Government's business rate relief webpage  (opens new window).

The Midhurst recovery group is committed to doing everything it can to reopen North Street to vehicles as soon as possible and to support those businesses affected by the incident. A firm of structural engineers, working on behalf of the owners, are devising a temporary façade support system that seeks to reopen as much of the road as possible whilst preserving the listed building facades. An update on timings will be issued as soon as possible after a further meeting with the structural engineers, owners, South Downs National Park Authority, Historic England and Chichester District Council next week. Once the building has been made secure, it will be possible to open the road (A286 North Street) to vehicles.

The West Sussex County Council Highways team have organised a diversion around the closed North Street with related signage at key locations. To ease congestion, temporary one-way restrictions have been put in place on the lanes surrounding Midhurst. Both the diversion and one-way restrictions are being monitored and adjusted where needed. Drivers are urged to follow official diversion signage, with more information available through One Network - the live traffic and road update service (opens new window). The team has also been responding to reports of potholes in the area and continue to encourage people to report these through the County Council report a pothole e-form (opens new window) or by calling 01243 642105. 

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service responded to the fire, and they are currently investigating the cause. The investigation is complex and the buildings are not yet safe to enter, which is impacting the timescale for the investigation. It is anticipated that it may take a few months to determine the cause.

All waste and recycling collections are operating as usual after the council put in plans in place to overcome access issues. To keep up to date, the council is encouraging residents to download the Chichester District Council app, which provides personalised notifications on waste and recycling collections.

All of the agencies involved would like to thank local residents and businesses for their feedback, which is discussed at a multi-agency group every week. A series of Frequently Asked Questions — covering information about the incident, who is involved in the recovery process and who is responsible for what elements, and how residents and businesses are currently being supported — will be published on Chichester District Council's website in our latest news section.

Residents are also encouraged to visit this web page and follow the council's social media channels for the latest updates on the situation.

Date: 6 April 2023
Reference: 4230