17/03/2015 - Redeveloping our Town Centre
Many of you will be aware of proposals by property company New River to carry out extensive alterations to the Martlets area of the town centre. These include:
- Lidl will be knocked down and relocated to the Queens Crescent car park
- Argos will be relocated to the left of New Look
- The Martlets Hall and Library will be demolished
- A new Library will be built over two floors nearer to the roadside on Civic Way
- Above the Library will be a 60 bedroom hotel, more shops and housing
- The multi-storey car park will be turned into a tall block of housing with an underground car park for residents
- A convenience store will go in the place of Lidl, smaller in size
- Shop units from Café Nazaar, Sussex Appliances round to Truffles will be demolished and reconfigured into a smaller number of larger retail units
- William Hill Interiors, Pulse, Iceland and all other units in that area will be demolished and resized to house larger units
- The Martlets Heights building will be knocked down, seeing the departure of Heights Health Club, Apollo Lasertag and all the offices
- In its place will be shops with an 8 screen multiplex cinema above.
It is expected that a planning application will be made in the near future.
Burgess Hill Labour Party has several immediate concerns about the town centre redevelopment proposals:
- Is it a good move to relocate a major store such as Lidl’s away from the town centre? This will probably lead to more people driving there, having free parking, doing their shopping and then going home with no extra business coming to small traders in the town. In other words another out-of-town store like Tesco’s.
- The demolition of the Martlets Hall will leave us without a venue for the range of activities currently catered for by the building such as touring shows, the annual pantomime, smaller local groups etc.
- Given that New River is a company understandably driven by the profit motive, will the District Council obtain the full value for the land at Queens Crescent Car Park and for the Martlets Hall and Library rather than virtually give them away?
- The proposed architecture for the re-building is very drab, largely concrete blocks, with little attempt to give Burgess Hill a local identity.
- Tories tell us that it is free market capitalism but we doubt that a company registered in Guernsey is best placed to provide a commitment to the Community.
Councillor David Andrews, leader of the Labour Group on Burgess Hill Town Council said, "Burgess Hill Labour Party will campaign against the proposals unless a new top quality arts centre is constructed before the present hall is closed.
Meanwhile we want to hear the views of residents — Labour Party members will be in the town centre on Sat morning 21st March".