The Tanbridge Retail Park, Horsham – when urban planning goes wrong

The ‘A’ arrow on the map below marks the location of the Tanbridge Retail Park in Horsham. It was constructed in the early 1990s, alongside a new section of dual carriageway that had been blasted through part of the town, extending the existing ‘Albion Way’ inner ring road to allow easier access by car to a new Sainsbury’s development, itself built on school playing fields. Sainsbury’s lies on that same roundabout, on the map.

This roundabout is not very far from the town centre at all – barely a few hundred yards from West Street, the main shopping street. The large, darker area to the top of the map is the town’s indoor shopping precinct. It is a three minute walk, at most, from the centre of West Street, down Worthing Road, to this retail park. Indeed, websites which promote the retail park assure you that it is

within walking distance of Horsham Town Centre

But unfortunately, the planners who built this park, and the highway engineers responsible for the road network around it, seem to have gone out of their way to discourage this strange activity called ‘walking’.


Here we are, looking southbound, to the shop we want to get to, only a matter of yards away. But you can see that several barriers have been put in our way. Stop walking!


Here is evidence of the natural ‘desire line.’ This muddy track suggests that a large number of pedestrians have no inclination to be herded like cattle,  away from a straight line to their destination.

If you don’t want to push through the bushes, however, you have to hoof your way up the Albion Way dual carriageway to this two-stage pedestrian crossing.


Helpfully the lights are fitted with sensors which prevent them from changing if vehicles are approaching. This means that if traffic is continuous, you will have to wait at least a minute for the lights to change. And then wait again at the next set of lights, to cross the other carriageway. But people who walk deserve to be held up, don’t they?

Now that you are on the correct side of the street, you would think that it would now be easy to access either of the two shops in the retail park, but unfortunately life is still being made needlessly difficult for you. To enter either Staples or Curry’s, you have to double back to the entrance shown in the photograph below, which will add 50-60 metres to your journey on foot.


This is looking back northbound, to the point we started from, on the other side of the road.

The lack of consideration for pedestrians is entirely evident. The fences stopping you from crossing in the most natural place; a traffic light set that is displaced up the road to where it is convenient for motor vehicles, with a delayed light sequence to match; an entrance to the shops that is situated on the corner, at the furthest point from where pedestrians are ‘allowed’ to cross the road – the planners responsible have clearly decided that pedestrians are merely something that has to be kept out of the way of motor vehicle flow. No thought at all has gone into encouraging people to walk the very short distance to these two shops, and every incentive has been put in place to make people drive to them.


An enormous car park, free to everyone who drives here. To repeat, this is in the centre of the town.


Another natural ‘desire line’, this time from the eastern, Worthing Road side. The planners were thoughtless enough to not put a pedestrian entrance here – so one has been created for them.

And on a final note, there are no cycle stands at either shop.





This entry was posted in Car dependence, Cycle Stands, Horsham, Infrastructure, Town planning, Walking. Bookmark the permalink.

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