Observer shocked and baffled by Wealden’s shopping centre purchase

Wealden District Council’s purchase of a shopping centre in Hailsham left independent Saturday columnist, Observer, lost for words; well almost.



They say expect the unexpected but how could one ever possibly think that Wealden District Council would become the owners of a shopping centre in Hailsham.

Yes, the Conservative-controlled district council has spent more than £12m on buying the Vicarage Fields Shopping Centre.

The council is planning to re-invigorate the area so it can play a “stronger role in improving the economy of the district”.


All very laudable but it does leave many unanswered questions. For example:

  • Is this really the time to be buying shopping centres, with internet shopping becoming more popular by the day;
  • Have they really considered that income from shop rentals is by and large stagnating;
  • Why is public ownership of a shopping centre better than private ownership; and
  • Will we now see Wealden District Council as the developer to lead the stalled regeneration of Uckfield?

From where I sit on the late-running Southern train, there is much more that could be done with £12 million than buying a shopping centre.

For starters, you could make a sizeable dent in the lack of social housing across the whole district. That’s how I would have spent £12m.

Stunned by the news? You bet I was.

And I was also reeling from this little number:

Pay parking


Wealden District Council’s Cabinet abandoned discussion on the proposed introduction of on-street Civil Parking Enforcement within Wealden this week because “a number of queries about the matter had come up”.

It is a far-reaching change and the council needs to be clear on what it is doing and what the ramifications will be.

Once thing’s certain: if you change it, you can’t change back.

Decriminalised parking is hardly new – most other districts in these parts have been working the system for some years. So, what the queries are remains a mystery.

Your guess is as good as mine but I bet there were some sharp intakes of breath when councillors saw the extent of the proposals.

Some tough decisions ahead for councillors but, hey ho, that’s what they are elected to do.

We will see what happens when this item reappears on the council’s agenda in the new year.


I am told that I am being joined in this cosy Saturday home on by another columnist, Newcomer. I look forward to seeing what they have to say about our town.

Welcome to this parish.

See also:

Council acts on Oaklea Way complaints

Pay parking/residents’ permits is wide ranging

Cuckoo premises back on the market in Uckfield

Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory

How to advertise on










Share this story

Sign up to receive daily news alerts

I'd like to receive updates every: