Fiona Monson, president of Uckfield Chamber of Commerce

Uckfield business community faces ‘challenges’

May Business Scene

New president of Uckfield Chamber of Commerce Fiona Monson takes over as the leader of an organisation that is in good heart.

She also detects that Uckfield weathered the recession pretty well but sees challenges ahead for both the town and the Chamber.

Fiona, of Armida Business Recovery, takes office with Uckfield facing the biggest changes in a generation.

East Sussex County Council has a scheme to enhance the High Street which will involve widening pavements, restricting parking and making the area more shopper-friendly. The bus station will be enhanced, probably as a first phase.

At the same time Network Rail is planning a station car park.

See stories here and here

In a separate development, a steering group comprising the major public authority landowners in the town centre is about to launch a major scheme which could see a new supermarket built.

More details here

In addition 1,000 new homes are to be built at Ridgewood Farm.

Fiona said the Uckfield Chamber was in good spirits. It was the third or fourth largest in Sussex in terms of membership. Businesses from the town and surrounding area were keen to join.

“Members feel they are getting something out of our meetings. It is partly networking and partly getting support for ideas they feel strongly about”

The Uckfield Chamber is a strong supporter of the Alliance of Chambers in East Sussex (ACES) which has five common goals for the county:

  • One voice to influence policy making;
  • Infrastructure to improve road and rail;
  • Connectivity, widespread availability of high-speed broadband and mobile hot spots;
  • Marketing to promote the county as a place to do business ; and
  • Skills, especially school-leaver employability.

She said Uckfield had come through the recession in pretty good shape and there was not an horrendous number of empty shops. “I think it is a great business community here,” she commented.

The 7km rule which restricts development around the Ashdown Forest looked set to continue as a major issue.

She had learned at a meeting that of the six councils involved in the 7km rule, Wealden District Council was taking the hardest line in its interpretation.

32 weeks of roadworks?

The Chamber, she said, was talking to East Sussex County Council about the works it planned for 2015 in the High Street.

“We are concerned over the length of time the roadworks will take. We have been told it could last up to 32 weeks and we fear it will be very disruptive. We have already expressed those concerns to the county council,” she said.

The Chamber was also watching to see what proposals come forward for the area around the Luxford Field as well any suggestions coming forward under the Neighourhood Plan consultation that could affect the business community.

Looking ahead, she detected a shortage of serviced office space and a lack of start-up business units.

How to join the Uckfield Chamber of Commerce here

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News in Brief

EDEAL: A new one-year agreement has been signed between Wealden District Council and the Eastbourne and District Enterprise Agency Ltd.(EDEAL) to provide local businesses with support and advice.

Cllr Roy Galley, Wealden Cabinet member for Economic Development and Regeneration, said: “We want to encourage as many new business start-ups as possible as well as helping established Wealden businesses to grow,

“Our District is a fantastic environment for small start–ups offering outstanding quality of life and good access to the high value markets of the south east. It is the ideal location for the next generation of green businesses, offering sustainable solutions to some of today’s environmental issues.”

See also:

Charity shops – why councils do not intervene

Cash needed to complete memorial to pilot who ‘saved Uckfield’

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