Business Scene – February 2017
I predicted in last month’s column that news on the town centre regeneration would come early in the new year – and so it did.
The verdict was no surprise, writes Paul Watson.
A series of factors have made the plan to build a new shopping centre, probably “anchored” by another supermarket, pretty much a lost cause.
It was a brave proposal which would in all probability have transformed Uckfield as a shopping destination.
The recession knocked the impetus out of the scheme and when the recovery came, the world had changed.
Big supermarkets, such as Tesco, had stopped the investments in bricks and mortar as shoppers moved to more frequent purchases from convenience stores. The online shopping revolution grew faster, leaving no-one to commit to a major expansion.
The town centre regeneration committee plans to have another look next year but I will be amazed if the world of shopping has changed.
Uckfield, for the time being, will have to build on what it has and there may still be headwinds.
Commercial agent Chris Lawson, of Lawson Commercial, warned that finding retailers for Uckfield High Street was becoming ever more difficult.
Wish list for new shops
Many residents have a wish list of shops they would like to see. M&S, Next, Aldi/Lidl are usually among the favourites.
Mr Lawson’s words should be of concern for it seems the major retailers are not coming and nor is there such a willingness by independents as there once was to give Uckfield a punt.
There are some initiatives around such as Wealden’s Streets Ahead but they are not making much headway.
I am by no means predicting doom or gloom for Uckfield but just saying it will be different.
But then, Uckfield High Street is much different to what it was 50 years ago (above) as a former president of the chamber of commerce, Peter Gale, pointed out in this article. [Scroll down for Mr Gale's memories which formed part of a longer article].
Here is some background for further reading
Former Wealden MP Charles Hendry was regarded by many as a “good” energy minister when in government and was “unfortunate” to lose his job in a David Cameron reshuffle.
Mr Hendry was back in the news last month after undertaking a review of hydro-power.
Having stepped down as Wealden MP at the general election in May 2015, he was commissioned by the government to write to write the report which concluded the technology would make a ‘strong contribution’ to the UK’s energy supply.
Find out more here
Design and Display Structures
Continuing to look west, Uckfield-based Design and Display Structures has been awarded a contract to build cladding for 17 towers for a £40 million retail and leisure facility in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.
The development will include a 30,250 square metre building, with warehousing, support services and administrative offices, together with internal roads and parking.
It is being built for Trago, a South West-based discount retailer, and will be the company’s first store in Wales.
East Sussex National Resort
The hotel on the A22 at Little Horsted has received AA Silver Star status for its four star rating.
This is defined as being for “highly recommended hotels offering a superior level of quality within their star rating, high standards of hotel keeping, in particular, hospitality, service and cleanliness and an AA Rosette award for the quality of their food”.
Oldfield Smith & Co: Two new members of staff have joined the growing Uckfield commercial property firm Oldfield Smith & Co, Chartered Surveyors.
Paul White, a chartered surveyor and registered valuer, has joined the expanding professional services department of the practice, while Sue Collett has come in as office manager. More here
Cranwell Wealth Solutions: Wealth management business, Cranwell Wealth Solutions, which moved to new Uckfield premises last year is growing rapidly.
Stephen Palmer, who set up the business, previously worked from his Uckfield home but last summer made the transition to new office space on 21 Church Street.
Since the move Cranwell Wealth Solutions has gone from strength to strength. Peter Morris joined as a new advisor in June 2016 and Mae Ixer and Kate Miller took on new roles in this year.
Lawson Commercial: Property team member Steve Campbell has achieved the National Federation of Property Professionals (NFoPP) Technical Award in Commercial Property Agency.
It is a nationally recognised industry qualification, meets the Institution of Commercial and Business Agents (ICBA) membership requirements for those looking to join this association as a member. The ICBA is an important professional body for commercial agents promoting better regulation and higher practice standards in the UK private property sector.
Team 4 Solutions
Uckfield-based bookkeepers Team 4 Solutions is organising a free workplace pension event and inviting local businesses to attend.
Practice manager Lisa Walkden said many smaller businesses will be going through their staging date for auto-enrolment this year and the free, morning event, will give attendees a clear view of their responsibilities as employers and also promote the service available from Team 4.
It will take place on Tuesday, February 14, from 9.30am, with a 10am start, in the Board Room at Team 4 Solutions premises at the Old Roller Mill.
The Forest Vet
This means customers do not pay the charge of a home visit, only the normal consultation fee.
Focus on Blackboys
The Grove: Fresh, home-cooked farmhouse food takes priority on a new menu at The Grove at Blackboys, which is now known as The Grove Farmhouse Cafe.
The business has scaled back its village shop to make room for more dining tables following feedback from customers. They can now seat up to 40 people comfortably when previously they had room for a maximum 30. Read more.
Martinez Hair Salon: Bespoke hair design is offered by Luis Martinez and his team of hairdressers in a modern salon with free parking in Blackboys, just outside Uckfield.
Luis says Martinez Hair Salon is all about making clients feel special and able to relax while being pampered. There’s a complimentary selection of teas, coffee, soft drinks … and wine, along with free WiFi and up to date magazines to dip into.
The salon, which is a member of the prestigious 365 Hairdressing group, can be found in a converted courtyard building at Brownings Farm, Lewes Road. More here
And, in brief
Indoor soccer tourney: Former Uckfield TR Fastenings employee Dean Reynolds will be a member of a Metropolitan Police team competing at the World Police Indoor Soccer Tournament in October.
PC Reynold’s mum, Kate Pocock, still works for the company and now TR has announced sponsorship of two Met teams at the tournament.
European funding: Rural businesses in Wealden and Rother are being encouraged to apply for LEADER funding following post-Brexit reassurance that funding will remain in place for another 20 months.
As the funding stream comes via the EU, there were concerns that it may be stopped after the referendum result.
It is part of Defra’s Rural Development Programme for England and channels support from the Common Agricultural Policy budget to rural enterprises.
For more details about LEADER, contact Don Cranfield, Programme Manager, Wealden and Rother Rural Partnership at Plumpton College on 01273 892031 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory