Uckfield Farmers’ Market would benefit from a more central location, a strategic review by planners has concluded.
The town centre’s overall vitality and viability would be improved by a more permanent covered market.
UckfieldNews.com featured the idea of a covered market in a central location last June when Christopher Borkowski from SJI put forward the idea and showed what had been achieved in Canterbury.
The town council has explored the possibility of moving the monthly market to the High Street but settled for the Luxford Field (and car park in winter) after health and safety worries. See here
Next ten years
A Wealden District Council document outlining draft plans for the town and district over the next ten years includes the idea of moving the farmers’ market.
In reviewing Uckfield town centre the planners state:
“There is a complementary mix of multiple and independent retailers within Uckfield.
“Uckfield would benefit from more anchor stores and key high street retailers to help increase the attraction of the centre and the retention of shoppers who live in the local catchment area but choose to shop in the higher order centres outside the district; principally Royal Tunbridge Wells.
“However, attracting multiples to the centre will be difficult,” the planner say.
Build on ‘specialist offer’
“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, cafés and restaurants.”
It suggests Uckfield should aim for an “up-market” image setting out the following vision:
“Uckfield town centre will become a contemporary market town with an ‘up-market’ image, known for its successful and varied shopping facilities and commercial opportunities, offering an attractive and welcoming environment, maintaining its own distinctive identity and acting as a hub for surrounding towns and villages.
“Uckfield residents will benefit from improved public open space and leisure facilities, as well as new retail provision within the town centre.
“Existing retail and commercial facilities will be improved and Uckfield will retain its commercial prominence.”
The Wealden document states:
“Uckfield Farmers’ Market would benefit from a more central location where it could accommodate more stalls and will 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 that it can operate year-round regardless of the weather.”
The Uckfield shopping ideas from Wealden District Council form part of a broader scheme for the town and whole district, see story here.
It says improving the vitality and attractiveness of the town centre are key to delivering sustainable development and improving the quality of life of residents.
“Widening the choice and variety of jobs and services available will help reduce the need for longer distance travel. In addition, there is a consortium of public landowners working together to improve the public realm of the town centre,” the report from Wealden district planners states.
As previously reported by UckfieldNews.com, the scheme to extend the town centre has stalled because of the inability to find a key “anchor” tenant for any new development. See here.
Where Uckfield people shop
The report outlines some “shopping” data for Uckfield. The town:
- Retains 83% of food shopping trips and expenditure within its own area.
- Retains just under one-third of shopping trips and retail expenditure within its catchment area; the highest retention rate in Wealden.
“Overall, Uckfield has a relatively good food and convenience offer that is meeting the ‘bulk’ and ‘top-up’ food shopping needs of its catchment population,” the report states.
“However, the town is losing shoppers and expenditure to the higher order centres of Tunbridge Wells, Eastbourne and Brighton, particularly for fashion shopping.
Establish own identity
“Therefore, it is considered that rather than trying to replicate the offer in these centres, Uckfield should seek to establish its own identity in the comparison sector; with the potential to promote its independent and specialist offer,” says the report.
There are a number of retail, financial and leisure services within Uckfield. Leisure services are below the national average.
“It is considered that the town centre has a good variety and choice of services that cater well for the needs of its catchment population.
“In addition, Uckfield has a relatively good evening economy. This will help to create footfall and interest in the centre at night time, as well as benefiting other local shops and businesses that are open late.
“Uckfield is a successful town. However, it could benefit from some regeneration of existing buildings and creation of a clear local focal point.
“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 1450 sqm retail floorspace will have been delivered ensuring the continuing vibrant town status.”
Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory