Progress To Date
We have achieved a number of key milestones to date – these are outlined in the PDF link. However, a project of this scale and ambition is long and complex, made more so against the backdrop of a challenging market. Since the original scheme was granted planning consent in 2016, the retail and economic landscape has changed enormously – in turn presenting changes and challenges that are well-documented in the media.
Respectively, in order to deliver a relevant, viable and sustainable scheme, it is necessary to make some revisions to the previously consented designs. These revisions include reducing the total retail area and increasing the space for leisure and community uses. We hosted an open in May 2019 to share this with the community.
Open Day 1: What we presented on 18 May 2019
Thank you to those who made it along to our open day. For those who were not able to join you, you can find information that we presented in the below PDF.
At the Open Day, we outlined an update on where we are today, the challenges facing the current market and proposals for the path ahead which included some revisions to the originally consented scheme. All of this is outlined in the six panels within the below PDF. Please click through to view these.
WHAT WE PRESENTED AT THE OPEN DAY
Open Day 2: Saturday 29 June 2019
Thank you to those who joined us for our second Open Day where we presented updates that we have made to our proposed revised plans following feedback from the community at our first open day in May.
The principle changes we have made are as follows:
CHANGING PLACES TOILET: We have agreed with the library services to revise the layout of the library to accommodate a Changing Places toilet following strong demand from the community.
INDEPENDENT RETAIL: We have revised the size and configuration of the retail units to provide more units that are suitable for independent retailers as well as national operators.
We then made final adjustments to our plans before submitting a revised planning application in Autumn 2019.
Please find the materials which were presented in the attached PDF:
The revised scheme targeted specific tenants for the new retail space to be provided, and in most cases designed the new reduced retail area to meet the specifications and requirements of those tenants. By targeting the tenants and designing the space for them NewRiver has sought to minimise the potential for void space or oversupply, and thereby mitigate the risk of vacant space on completion.
A key strategy of the 2019 revisions has been the introduction of more leisure space into the proposals, partly by the addition of a new 20,000sqft bowling operation providing 16 bowling lanes located opposite the 10-screen multiplex cinema.
In addition, in order to optimise the leisure and amenity provision of the scheme, the public realm areas were extended from the 2016 proposals and new restaurant space included with south facing elevations to encourage outdoor seating and dining.
The planning application for the new scheme was validated on the 13th September 2019, but owing to delays caused by Covid 19 lockdowns the application was not brought to committee until the 3rd September 2020, where it received a unanimous approval by committee members.
However, during this period from validation to consideration by the planning committee, the retail and leisure sector was impacted beyond measure by the enforced and complete cessation of commercial activities during Lockdown.
In particular, the impact was acute in the hospitality and leisure sectors, which could not trade online, and could not adapt their business model to continue even a modest turnover.
Nevertheless, NewRiver remains deeply committed to the regeneration of the town centre and has been working closely with Mid Sussex District Council to deliver the scheme in this post Covid 19 world.