Redevelopment of the Martlets Shopping Centre will be a ‘major boost’ for Burgess Hill, according to the district council’s leader.
New River Retail’s £70m proposals were unanimously approved by Mid Sussex District Council’s District Planning Committee yesterday (Thursday March 10).
It includes a ten screen multiplex cinema, a 63-bed Travelodge hotel, 142 flats, new restaurants, a purpose-built modern library, gym and the creation of an extra 70,000 square feet of retail space to provide a total area of 200,000 sq. ft. on final delivery.
After the meeting Garry Wall, leader of MSDC, said: “Revitalising the Martlets Shopping Centre is a major boost for Burgess Hill.
“Local people deserve a town centre that has the shops and restaurants that they want to visit. This development will mean there is more for families and people to do in the evenings, making Burgess Hill a great place to shop, relax and spend free time.
“As more people are attracted to the town, existing local businesses will benefit from the increased footfall and this economic boost has the potential to bring a real feel-good factor to the town. Jobs will be created, people will have a better retail experience and hopefully more people will choose to support their local town instead of travelling to Brighton or Crawley.”
Allan Lockhart, property director at New River, added: “We are delighted to receive the unanimous support of the council, marking an important milestone for the creation of a new and vibrant Burgess Hill after several years hard work by our development team.
“Our proposed plans will transform Burgess Hill town centre, providing greater choice for local residents, better prospects for existing businesses and around 500 new employment opportunities.
“As a long-term investor in Burgess Hill, we are looking forward to continuing our work with the council and local stakeholders and delivering this exciting development to revitalise Burgess Hill.
The provisional timetable for the town centre regeneration plans shows how the development will be delivered over several years.
Early work will focus on removing the overhanging canopy, brightening the pedestrian walkway and making visual improvements to existing shops.
The next stage will see the demolition of the western part of the site and the construction of a new Travelodge hotel, residential units, 7,700 sq. ft. library, new shops, restaurants and the extension of the Market Place/Waitrose car park. Finally, the Martlets Heights office building will be demolished and construction work will start on the 34,000 square foot Cineworld cinema, with 50,000 sq. ft. retail units underneath.
However residents raised concerns over the loss of Martlets Hall without a replacement community facility, while the company managing the neighbouring Market Place Shopping Centre questioned elements of the design of the scheme.
Andrew Barrett-Miles, speaking on behalf of Burgess Hill Town Council, said: “This is a milestone in the development of Burgess Hill. It’s a very important day.”
He described this as the first of several major projects in the area, the rest being new science and business parks off the A2300 and redevelopment of the various quarters in the town.
He added: “Refusal of this particular application will I think stall a lot of the future work and future development of the town so this is hugely important.”
But speaking in objection, Peter Mitchell said: “Demolishing our Martlets Hall, the heart of Burgess Hill will be torn out and the vitality of our community dies.”
Fellow objector Robert Eggleston pointed to 13 examples in the officers’ report where the scheme did not comply with council policy, and asked why the developer was due to make a 16 per cent profit without Burgess Hill getting its ‘fair share’ of community benefits.
However Ginny Heard (Con, Burgess Hill - Franklands) said: “It does not deliver everything we want but Burgess Hill is desperate for this redevelopment upgrade.
“To turn down this opportunity and walk away would be a sad day for Burgess Hill.”
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