We’re backing Burgess Hill - that’s the message that’s gone out this week from shopkeepers and traders in the town.
They spoke out following criticism of the number of empty properties in the area and delays to the town’s £65 million regeneration scheme.
Businesses say that the town remains a lively trading centre - and they’re optimistic that it will be even better once redevelopment is complete.
Developers NewRiver are set to build a new Cineworld cinema, Travelodge hotel, new shops, restaurants, homes and a library.
And despite criticism from some that there is little evidence of the new development yet, traders say they are maintaining public support. Lynne Wright moved her business - Lynne’s Cafe - from The Martlets to Church Walk in readiness for the redevelopment - and says that business has never been better. “I was reluctant to move at first but I knew I had to because of the regeneration and now footfall here is about 25 per cent above what it was before. I’m not smug, but it’s done me a favour.”
Mustak Miah, has run Flavour Indian restaurant for the past 10 years. “Business is good,” he said, “but the redevelopment will be fabulous for the town.”
Also optimistic is Atif Amin, owner of tech company I-Tech Links in Church Walk. “I know the future is good,” he said.
Meanwhile, town, district and county councillor Anne Jones praised NewRiver for its investment in Burgess Hill. “There are only three major developments like this in the country and Burgess Hill is one of them. We have to have a town centre that is fit for the 21st century and I’m confident that will happen.”
Also confident is Lucy Sanchez, who has owned Plazo Uno with her husband Joe Carreira for the past three years. She said that everyone was looking forward to the new building going ahead but so far, she said: “We’re not complaining on our side. So far, so good.”