The merits of a plan to regenerate Burgess Hill town centre are being hotly contested.
Whether for or against New River Retail’s proposal, residents are passionately debating the worth of a scheme which will introduce a multi-screen cinema, hotel, shops, restaurants and a library.
Peter Gooding said: “The latest proposals for the town centre redevelopment lack any sense of what is important in the town. The proposed glass fronted units lack any character and do not reflect the history of what was a market town.”
New River intend to demolish the western part of the shopping centre, the multi-storey car park, the existing library and The Martlets Hall.
Peter continued: “The loss of this facility is the saddest part of the plan. No more touring Showstopper, no more pantomime, no more large scale community events to bring the town together. A serious loss to Burgess Hill.”
However, others welcome the development.
One comment on the Middy’s website said: “Good to see constructive improvements and regeneration, everyone in Burgess Hill and surroundings will benefit.
“But who is paying for this? My guess is the developers, not the council. So next time the do-gooders object to new housing or progress, spare a thought for the community investment they are knocking back.”
The Middy is encouraging Burgess Hill residents to share their opinions about the plan to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first phase of development sees relocation of Lidl and construction of an Argos, demolition of the link bridge and removal of shop canopies.
This would start in 2015 and be completed in 2016.
Phase two includes the construction of shops, restaurants, homes, hotel, car parking, library, a new boulevard and public square, and demolition of the existing library and Martlets Hall which would begin in September 2016 and be completed two years later.
Phase three includes removal of office block Martlets Heights and Iceland, development of shops fronting the car park with new cinema above, beginning March 2018 and completed 18 months later.
Burgess Hill town councillor David Andrews is concerned that community owned assets may be given to New River.
Cllr Gary Marsh, cabinet member for planning and economic development, said no decisions relating to council owned facilities have been made.
Cllr Andrews is also concerned about the demolition of The Martlets Hall.
“We need an entertainment venue, space for exhibitions and meetings and somewhere where out local orchestras, choirs, theatre groups can meet.”
He added: “The architecture looks very stark. Do we really want a mini Crawley?”
“There needs to be a proper consultation with the people of Burgess Hill rather than two days in a crowded shop with very limited information being available,” he added.