Orchards shopping centre has just begun it multimillion pound refit which will turn it into a more open and bright area with several new shops.
After years of planning, shoppers are finally starting to see work which will see the centre’s landlord invest millions into making the centre a more enjoyable place to be.
Work begun to remove the overbearing canopies and brighten up the old fashioned shop fronts in the centre last week.
Nicola Bird, the centre manager, said the centre is in serious need of a refit as it was built 33 years ago.
She said: “It’s going to look very new England. We have the architects who created the Lintot Square in Southwater which I think looks amazing.
“You will notice in the large out of town developments, retailers are trading from glass boxes, well we can’t give them that yet but we can give as close to that as we can and improve the aesthetics of the centre.
“By the time they’ve improved the appearance of the whole of the incside, it will probably have cost about £10m.”
She said whenever she shows potential tenants around the facility she gets the same feedback; it’s frumpy, out of date; the canopies are too oppressive and the sight lines are not adequate.
To brighten and smarten up the shop fronts, they will all be painted with a light grey.
“Our aim is to make Haywards Heath the very best place to come and shop for the whole area. We’re looking at an exciting new future for the Orchards. We’ve always been at the very heart of our town and have been the focal point for so many events.
“Now, with all the new young families moving here, we’re determined to provide the kind of shops and lifestyle they want and need.
“I think everyone will be amazed and very glad when our plans have come to fruition.”
The work will take part in five or six phases and the aesthetic work inside the centre should be complete within a few years.
Phase one, which will cost nearly £1million and be carried out by Ellis Construction, will involve the section from Superdrug to Card Factory.
Work will include removal of the canopies and wood and metal posts that hold them up, installation of new retractable canopies.
The unit between Boots opticians and Clarks Shoes will extended to meet its next door unit and it will be clad in wood.
The architectural drawings for the second phase have not been drawn yet but Nicola said she guessed it would be for the units opposite those completed in phase one.
She added that since the centre had CGI images created of the refurb, they have had a constant stream of interested traders wanting to move in.
New traders which have confirmed they will mover in by next year include Calioppe Gifts , o2, a new beauty salon and Holland and Barrett plans to expand into its next door unit.
Further work could be undertaken to extend the centre if the landlord and the retailers see fit. Nicola said many shoppers would like to see Marks and Spencers expand but she said the store’s management has not said it wishes to do this as yet.