Wealden District Council

Wealden Home  >  Council  >  News and Events  >  News  >  Exciting new proposals to regenerate Vicarage Field

Exciting new proposals to regenerate Vicarage Field

Media Release : 31 January 2019

Wealden’s Cabinet has given the go ahead to start consulting about exciting new proposals to regenerate the Vicarage Field area of Hailsham town centre.

Vic lane project Jan 19

The proposals include creating a new retail format for the Vicarage Field shopping centre which the Council bought in 2017, with an emphasis on cafes, restaurants and entertainment. They also include plans for up to 280 apartments and town houses aimed at younger people, a multi-storey car park merging in with the gradient of the site and new leisure facilities. There will also be public service offices, and re-provisioning of existing facilities including the Bowls Club and Charles Hunt Centre.

This re-configuration of the site will open up access and views to the town’s High Street shopping, conservation area and historic church. 

“This is only an initial draft,” said Council Leader Bob Standley. “We are open to ideas and input from all sources so we can understand what will work best here for the town and surrounding countryside.

“We know that towns are changing and retail is changing.  Retailers are under pressure from online shopping. People are now shopping more online, but equally there are now more households shopping on a daily basis, particularly in villages. We need to make the most of these changing habits.

“This will be a big project. We are talking millions of pounds. There are lots of decisions to be made, and it is important we get this right. A joint venture of some kind would seem to be the obvious way forward but that has not been decided.

“Infrastructure and car parking will be important,” Councillor Standley added. “Particularly important will be the success of the town’s existing small traders. Niche traders are important to the success of small towns and Hailsham is noted for this.” 

Wealden’s ambitious proposals have been welcomed by Hailsham’s Mayor, Councillor Nigel Coltman: 

“As a long time-resident, I applaud Wealden’s draft suggestions for the redevelopment of the town centre,” said Councillor Coltman.  “Hailsham has a long history as a successful market town, but councillors, retailers, and residents realise that for that success to continue, bold steps have to be taken. 

“The recent rebuilding and reformatting of the town centre roads were a beginning.  The imaginative new vision which has been outlined will include many services that Wealden’s fastest-growing town needs. These could include a new sports centre, town centre housing, and a new parking facility.

“Hailsham Town Council and residents look forward to working with Wealden Council to develop a revitalised Hailsham centre that works for everyone.”

The next phase of the regeneration proposals will include an engagement exercise with the town centre’s stakeholders and members of the public. It will hear their initial reaction and learn what they would like to see incorporated in the town centre. This is expected to begin in February.

It also involves commissioning architectural and consultancy services to look at design options, highway works and conservation implications. A further study will assess likely energy demands arising from the scheme to help formulate a green energy strategy. It will look at harnessing modern energy technology to create a District Energy Scheme. 

Cabinet also agreed to look at putting forward a bid to the Government’s Future High Street Fund. The Government is making £675 million available to support the transformation of Britain’s high streets to enable wider economic growth.

You can follow the discussion at Cabinet about the Vicarage Field regeneration project through our online webcast 

The Cabinet report can be read   on the Council’s website .  

The image is a preliminary representation of how the scheme may look.