Statement on the Midhurst Fire from the Multi-Agency Recovery Group (27 April)
"We totally understand that the top priority for the Midhurst community and businesses is to get North Street reopened to vehicles and the frustration that this has not yet happened.
"We want to assure everyone that there is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to enable the buildings to be secured as soon as possible. The Angel Inn Hotel and the other buildings that have been damaged are listed buildings and are protected by law. The solution to making the buildings safe and secure is for them to be shored up.
"Now that we are aware of the length of time it will take for the owners to access any insurance payments, South Downs National Park Authority, Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council have stepped in to ensure this work happens without unnecessary delay. As the local planning authority, South Downs National Park Authority, is using its statutory planning powers so that this work can be carried out.
"It is regrettable that we have to step in and address what should be covered more promptly by the owners' insurance. Such decisions are very rare for good reason and have to be carefully considered. While public money will be spent to shore up the buildings, we will use all legal means to reclaim these costs. The priority must be the shoring up of the buildings, which will, in turn, enable the road to be reopened to vehicles again. We will provide a further update on timescales as soon as we are able to.
"Chichester District Council has seconded a member of its Economic Development Team to support local businesses for the two months following the fire. He has been in contact with over 100 businesses in the town and is working with the Business Recovery Group, which consists of local businesses, to help deliver a recovery plan. £300,000 has been set aside by Chichester District Council and £5,000 by Midhurst Town Council to support the businesses and help get the town back on its feet. A further £10,900 has also already been given by the district council to the Midhurst Town Team - a business group - to help with promotions and marketing.
"From the £300,000 set aside, Chichester District Council has launched a £200,000 grant fund to assist Midhurst town centre businesses who are reliant on footfall and have seen a negative impact on their business since the A286 at North Street has been closed to vehicles.
"All of the agencies involved and the owners are committed to doing everything they can to get the road reopened to vehicles as soon as possible and helping Midhurst recover from this dreadful incident.
"All updates and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on Chichester District Council's latest news page.
The South Downs National Park Authority will be providing regular communication updates on the work to shore up the building."
Chichester District Council
South Downs National Park Authority
West Sussex County Council
Midhurst Town Council
Date of Release: 27 April 2023