Redevelopment of Uckfield town centre remains a priority in a draft Wealden Local Plan which will be going out for consultation from August 13 to October 8.
The plan, drawn up by Wealden Council, covers the period from 2013 to 2028 and says that, subject to further retail studies, some 450 sq m convenience and 1,400 sq m ‘comparison’ retail floor space provision will be required.
It has been completed just as Uckfield Town Centre Joint Regeneration Committee – made up of Uckfield Town, Wealden District and East Sussex County representatives – has called a halt to its regeneration efforts, accepting the time isn’t right to proceed, but hoping it will happen in the future.
The draft Local Plan says Uckfield is a successful town but could benefit from some regeneration of existing buildings and creation of a clear local focal point.
It says Uckfield would benefit from more anchor stores and key high street retailers but attracting multiples will be difficult.
“As a result the preferred strategy for Uckfield will be to consolidate its existing multiple and service offer, and build on the attraction and success of its independent and specialist offer by improving the quality and choice of shops, cafes and restaurants.”
The draft plan says Uckfield Farmers’ Market would benefit from a more central location where it could accommodate more stalls and have the necessary ‘critical mass’ to attract more people and generate linked trips to the benefit of other shops, services and facilities in the centre.
“It could also be beneficial for the town centre’s overall vitality and viability to provide a more permanent covered market, as this will lead to better management and marketing of the offer, and mean it can operate year-round regardless of the weather.”
The vision for the town centre is given as:
“By the end of the plan period the town centre will be reconfigured to enhance the public realm and to ensure the long term success of the local market.
“Some additional 1,850 square metres of retail floor space will have been delivered ensuring the continuing vibrant town status.
“The improvement of the existing building stock will be complete making the best use of the town centre space.
“The green spaces within Uckfield will have been protected and enhanced providing a network of usable green space and the strategic SANG will be a prominent feature and asset of the town.”
A map shows where the retail allocation for Uckfield is. It covers the area being looked at by the Uckfield Joint Redevelopment Committee and includes Luxford Field and car park, Tesco and car park, fire station and shops to the west of the High Street.
The draft plan says: “To help facilitate this growth residential development (an allowance has been made for 100 homes) will be delivered alongside new retail and commercial development.”
Another map shows where primary and secondary frontages are within the shopping area.
Primary frontages are specified for retail use.
Other uses such as financial and professional services, restaurants and cafes, hot food takeaways, clinics, health centres, cinemas and dance halls (but not night clubs) could be allowed as long as they don’t result in three or more non-retail units in adjoining premises and don’t break a continuous primary retail frontage.
Offices and homes
Uses within the secondary frontages could include those listed for primary frontages and also include offices and family homes.
The draft plan says it is considered Uckfield town centre has a good variety and choice of services that cater well for the needs of its catchment population.
In addition, it says, Uckfield has a relatively good evening economy which will help create footfall and interest in the centre at night time, as well as benefiting other local shops and businesses that are open late.
Within the plan period it is envisaged that the 1,000 homes at Ridgewood and other approved developments will have been built.
A development boundary seeks to “conserve the rural setting of the town and prevent outward encroachment of development into the surrounding countryside”.
The boundary follows existing development and includes current housing and industrial commitments.
The Draft Local Plan says the 1,000 homes Ridgewood site will include two new junctions onto the A22.
It will also provide space for additional early years and primary education provision. Further improvements to secondary education may be required in the longer term, subject to review.
The draft plan also says The High Weald Lewes and Havens Clinical Commissioning Group is currently supporting funding appliations for the potential use of existing space/expansion within the existing community hospital site to increase clinical space for the Bird in Eye Surgery.
A need has been identified for additional open space, sports and recreation facilities.
Read more in the Draft Local Plan which can be seen here on the Wealden Council website.