LETTER: Vision for future of Burgess Hill

Your letters
Your letters

I have examined the town centre redevelopment proposals submitted by New River Retail and, notwithstanding the points made by other readers, have the following comments to make on the their submission.

1:Design Criteria

The Design and Access Statement makes no mention of the successful layout achieved in the Market Place Shopping Centre adjoining the site. In the Market Place the shop units are accessed via a central covered core affording shoppers protection from the elements. In the new scheme no attempt has been made to replicate this approach, instead an outdated 1970’s approach to shop design has been adopted with shop entrances having access from the outside and open to the elements.

Another aspect of the existing town centre layout appreciated by shoppers is the protection from the weather afforded by the use of continuous canopies linking the shops. However even these have been removed from the shop units adjoining Church Walk.

2: Burgess Hill Neighbourhood Plan

Although not yet adopted this Plan seeks to –

a) promote well designed sustainable development in the right locations

b) provide and improve civic, community and cultural facilities in the town centre

c) ensure adequate parking for all new development.

All these objectives have been ignored.

3: Documentation

The drawings presented to explain the scheme are poorly prepared and incomplete, they do not show the complete scheme. There are errors in the application form.

4: Access

Service access to Block B relies on increasing the traffic flow along Church Road and increasing the potentially dangerous crossflow between pedestrians and delivery vehicles at the point of entry to the pedestrian zone in Church Road.

5: Orientation

The circulation passage between Blocks A and B is located directly in line with the prevailing south west wind. The buildings on both sides of this passage will be 7 storeys high (over 22 metres), thereby creating a wind tunnel and making the space between the new shops useless as a venue for events, and uncomfortable for shoppers. New River refer to the slight widening of this space as the focal point of the scheme!

6: Library

The new library is located on the lower ground level, adjacent to the underground car park, which is assumed to be for residents, and a bin store. This public facility should be located in the centre of the development to emphasise its cultural and social importance not tucked away out of sight.

The proposals show a change of level within the shell of the library. In order to fully utilise the space a ramp will need to be provided to facilitate disabled access resulting in a reduction in the overall useable area of approximately 20sq.m.

No easy access for disabled shoppers to use the library is shown. The travel distance from the disabled parking bays to the library entrance is approximately 150-200 metres.

7: Block B – Cinema

The Design Statement refers to a 10 screen cinema, however the plan shows seven cinemas, it is not clear where the remaining three are to be located. Of the seven shown only two appear to have ramps to enable them to be used by disabled users. In addition the method of providing a means of escape for wheelchair users is not specified.

Block B dominates the site and visually overpowers the Market Place and Waitrose.

The cinema complex alone has the facility to accommodate over 1000 users, the majority are likely to travel by car and will require adequate car parking facilities.

8: Hotel

This unit offers no community facilities in the form of meeting spaces or restaurants available for clients or general public use. It is merely a motel but without dedicated car parking that is normal for such an establishment. However it has the potential to generate a close proximity need for over 60 car parking spaces.

9 Car Parking Provision

The plans indicate 130 car parking spaces at the lower ground level of Block A, which I assume, will serve the residential accommodation. In addition 174 external car parking spaces are shown. Given the need for car parking generated by Items 7 & 8 above together with the needs of staff, shoppers and library users it is clear that the car parking provision is totally inadequate for the development.

10 Public Toilets

No provision has been made for the replacement of the public toilets.

Conclusion

The proposals are out of character and scale with the existing town centre, they are ill conceived and do not meet the needs of the community. The planning application should be rejected.

Bryan Roberts

Kirdford Close, Burgess Hill

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