The decision was made in a private session at the last meeting of the Uckfield Town Centre Regeneration Joint Committee on Monday, March 23.
Minutes say that members agreed to halt the current procurement process and notify “PQQ respondents” accordingly. PQQ stands for Pre-Qualification Questionnaire.
They also resolved to “request that between now and September 2015 options are explored for progressing the Town Centre Reinvestment project in order to make the project more attractive to potential development partners, with a report back to the Joint Committee in September with recommendations for achieving this within the current approved budget”.
A press release from the Uckfield Town Centre Reinvestment Project says the review will allow the Uckfield Town Centre Joint Committee to take account of changes in the national retail climate since the Phase 2 procurement process began.
“It is important that we proceed in a way which reflects the current market and enter into an arrangement which is strong, relevant to the current retail climate and with robust arrangements to manage any risks now and in the future,” said Nigel Hannam, the lead director advising the joint committee. “We need to get the bes deal for the town.”
Phase 2 of the Town Centre Reinvestment project involves redeveloping the land in the town centre around Luxford Field to create additional retail space as well as new recretational and social facilities for the town.
The decision does not affect the Uckfield High Street Highways Improvement Scheme, which is Phase 1 of theproject. The review of High Street highways improvements will be completed in late May.
Announcing the decision to review Phase 2, Mr Hannam said: “It is clear that the retail market has changed considerably in the last 12 months and the original financial model has changed.
“The committee has decided to learn from the process so far and to review the options now open to it. We believe we can achieve a far more satisfactory conclusion by making what we have to offer more attractive to a wider range of potential development partners.”
The joint committee responsible for the Uckfield Town Centre project took the decision to call a halt tothe procurement process for six months after receiving reports from its procurement, property and legal consultants at the meeting on March 23.
The committee were updated on the current retail property development market, the risks associated with the project and information about the developers that had been short-listed.
The review will be completed in September when the joint committee will meet to consider the outcome.
A report of the section of the meeting on March 23, which was held in public, can be seen here: Uckfield High Street congestion figures challenged
Details of the procurement process, which has now halted, can be seen in this story: Scene set for how Uckfield regeneration project will proceed.
Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory