Wealden Council has spent more than £12 million on a shopping centre at Hailsham.
Vicarage Fields Shopping Centre was built in the 1960s but the current anchor premises which accommodates Waitrose was rebuilt in the 1990s.
The council now plans to re-invigorate the town centre site “so it can play a stronger role in improving the economy of the district”, according to the council’s leader and cabinet member responsible for strategic finance, Cllr Bob Standley.
Cllr Standley says in a press release: “Vicarage Fields has great potential to provide exciting regeneration opportunities in this expanding town. We will be consulting with retailers the town council and other stakeholders about the best way to maximise the potential of this site for the town and the district.
“Vibrant town centres, served by free off-street parking, are vital if we are to successfully compete with our larger urban neighbours.”
The press release goes on to say many years of careful financial management have put the district council in a strong position to take advantage of low interest rates to purchase the site which cost £12.35 million.
Rental income will provide an additional revenue stream for the council, helping to offset the effects of reductions in government funding.
The Vicarage Fields Shopping Centre is a two storey development consisting of 17 retail units with offices and residential flat upstairs.
This “prime site”, including walkways and pedestrian areas, covers 8,500m2. After taking professional advice, the shopping centre has been purchased, following a rigorous due diligence process, from an overseas private finance company.