Council leader reveals vision for future of Burgess Hill

Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards and leader of Mid Sussex District Council Garry Wall. Picture: Steve Robards
Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards and leader of Mid Sussex District Council Garry Wall. Picture: Steve Robards

“This is about regenerating Burgess Hill and leaving a legacy for the future – we are ready to roll.”

These are the words of Garry Wall, leader of Mid Sussex District Council, who has exclusively revealed to the Middy what changes are in store for our town over the next 20 years.

The Burgess Hill Programme

The Burgess Hill Programme

An investment which is costing £1bn, these include new homes, jobs, an improved access road, a Science and Technology park and three new schools.

Mr Wall said: “It is hard to get the scale of this project across to people, there really isn’t anything like this going on anywhere, it is one of the biggest investment projects in the South East.

“We are an ambitious council and have been working on this vision for over ten years and this is the big prize.

“This is a £1bn investment from the private and public sectors and we have support from local stakeholders and the Government.

It is hard to get the scale of this project across to people, there really isn’t anything like this going on anywhere, it is one of the biggest investment projects in the South East.

Garry Wall, leader of Mid Sussex District Council

“It is very difficult to get a Secretary of State to visit and the fact that we have already had four and another one who is due to visit shows our ambition – this doesn’t happen. As a council we have also been very fortunate to work with our MP.

“Our ambitions for Burgess Hill are starting to take place and we are now starting to see this project come forward. It is about doing the very best for our community, with a plan that is sustainable.

“It is about unlocking the potential of the district and Burgess Hill sits front and centre. It is uniquely placed, being close to the A23 and the airport.

“But none of this happens if you don’t work together. There have been some challenges but there will be with a project of this scale. This will benefit everyone and the economy for years to come.”

The new brand for Burgess Hill that residents chose

The new brand for Burgess Hill that residents chose

Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, said the plans have ‘something for everyone’.

“There will be affordable homes, high paid quality jobs and a modern and vibrant town centre,” he said.

“This project is for new and existing residents. It is not just about housing growth, but infrastructure too, so we are investing in our roads, new schools and community facilities.

“There will be over 15,000 new jobs and that level of employment opportunity is going to benefit the district. And we want residents to be able to work here, rather than having to commute elsewhere.”

Some of the plans are already starting to take shape including the regeneration of the Martlets.

Iceland has taken possession of its new store in Church Walk and Lidl is currently building their new store in replacement of the gasholder in Leylands Road.

Works have also begun to accommodate a temporary library, next to New Look and construction is due to begin at the Martlets Shopping Centre this summer and is aimed to be completed by autumn 2020.

A £65m investment from NewRiver REIT will see a new retail space, ten-screen cinema, 63-bed hotel, new library and 142 homes replace the Martlets.

Travelodge, Cineworld, Next, Nandos and Wildwood are confirmed occupants so far.

The district council, in partnership with West Sussex County Council (WSCC), has secured a £14.9m funding package for transport and other infrastructure improvements from the Local Growth Fund run by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

The funding will be targeted at improving traffic flows as well as providing new infrastructure to build a ‘more sustainable’ transport package for Burgess Hill and the surrounding area, the council has said.

And the aim of the transport project is to ‘improve connectivity, congestion and journey time reliability’.

A total of £16.96m has also been secured from the Local Growth Fund to assist with the upgrading of the A2300, which is the main access road to Burgess Hill from the A23.

The A2300 will be widened to two lanes. Preliminary design work for dualling is underway, the council has said. Works are expected to be completed by 2022.

New and improved cycle and footpaths are also planned, with a new cycle path to link Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath.

Improvements to Burgess Hill railway station and Wivelsfield railway station are also planned.

Gregory Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is also due to visit soon, the council has said.

MP Sir Nicholas Soames said he ‘wholly supports and welcomes’ the plans.

“The Burgess Hill development is vitally important to Mid Sussex but also to the South East generally,” he told the Middy.

“It will provide a tremendous addition to our area and I wholly support and welcome it and I look forward in particular to seeing a magnificent new Burgess Hill town development with all the benefits that it will bring for local people.”