Action needed on Burgess Hill redevelopment

At tonight’s District Council budget meeting I highlighted that the original planning application for the Martlets redevelopment was made seven years ago, and Burgess Hill has still not seen any progress made on the planned redevelopment. Indeed even the current revision of this plan is currently likely to be unviable. Former local Conservative Councillor Pru Moore said a few years ago that the Martlets redevelopment was a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’, she was right but not in the way she meant it, it seems to be taking all our lifetimes before any work even commences.

In the meantime, residents are left with neglected empty shops and vacant plots, the Liberal Democrat proposal was to ask the District Council to give a clear commitment to improving the Town Centre, to enable the Council to take action to improve the street scene and make use of the vacant land from demolition of the Martlets Hall.It’s good to hear the District Council has finally agreed to a meeting with the Town Council to discuss what action could be taken and the Liberal Democrat amendment provided a £100,000 budget heading to pay for this – unfortunately defeated by the Conservatives.

The Town Council previously submitted a bid for £16,000 for a project to provide an urban garden on the Martlets Hall site, which was refused, and has already refitted several shops (Scrapless, Burgess Hill Pantry, The Repair Café, etc), and would like to see further proposals to refit and rent out other empty shops, and to improve the street scene with better lighting and improved street furniture.

The District Council ultimately needs to take responsibility for the development, as it owns the freehold of the Martlets Centre, and agreed the terms of its lease with New River Retail. We all want to bring back more shoppers to Burgess Hill Town Centre and this proposal would have shown a clear commitment by the District Council to take action to achieve this. Despite this defeat the Town Council will continue to work with the Conservative controlled District Council and I hope we can work more productively together in the future.

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