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NewRiver Trigger Martlets Shopping Centre Planning Application With Mass Demolition On The Way In A Matter Of Months

3rd June 2024 | By Peter Chapman

A whole swathe of shops could be demolished in six months time if NewRiver Retail stick to their freshly submitted Construction Managment Plan for the Martlets Shopping Centre in Burgess Hill.

In submitting a construction management plan - along with meeting other planning conditions - NewRiver were able to officially trigger the planning permission ahead of the July 2nd deadline by undertaking the eyebrow-raising task of merely removing a few canopies above some shops.

This minor work was agreeable to MSDC's Planning Officers and has saved NRR hundreds of thousands of pounds in a full resubmission of the plans which were first agreed in the Summer of 2021 - more than a decade after purchasing the centre for £12 million in November 2010.

The Timeline
The Construction Management Plan sets out roughly what work will be undertaken and when.

According to the document, NewRiver will have a contractor (yet to be appointed) taking up residence on the Martlets Hall demolition site from September 2024 in order to make preparations for the wrecking balls to move in for the start of 2025. This work is expected to be completed by the end of June 2025.

From Spring 2025 through until the end of 2026, the big block of flats will be erected on the site of multi-storey car park. The retail element and hotel running from the Kiln up to and including the old Lidl building is due to commence from Summer of 2025 and is slated to be completed in mid-2027.

Construction for the long-awaited Cineworld (to the immediate right of New Look) with retail units on the ground floor below will be the last piece of the jigsaw, touted to begin in the Summer of 2028 and to be completed by the end of 2029.

What Will Be Demolished?
Everything to the right of New Look on both sides leading all the way to the side entrance of the Market Place Shopping Centre.

This will include a mixture of occupied and unoccupied units including The Kiln (Former Argos), The Pantry, Rocking Horse Emporium, the former Lidl and Iceland buildings along with the Martlets Heights office block and the multi-storey car park.

Will It Actually Happen?
Senior Councillors at Mid Sussex District Council have been silent on the issue across social media since NewRiver triggered the planning application.

You'd have expected Leader Robert Eggleston to have been crowing about the commencement of work right ahead of the General Election, how NewRiver met his and the Lib Dems' 'Horizon Point' which he spoke about back in July 2023 . Success within 12 months of taking office from the Conservatives is something to be proud of, surely?

It must be remembered that MSDC - under Conservative control - failed with two bids for 'Levelling Up' fund money from the Government over the last few years which would have helped plug NewRiver's 'Viability Gap' in the scheme - an issue that has not been publicly updated on for a long time.

Considering the Construction Management Plan is for all the elements of the scheme from the pre-covid era - Cineworld, Bowling Alley, Hotel etc, this could very easily be yet another false dawn for the on-going black comedy 'How Not To Redevelop A Shopping Centre'.

Don't be surprised if all the buildings are still left standing this time next year with NewRiver holding out for others to pledge money so they don't have to fund the whole scheme themselves from their personal cash pot of £138 million (as of November 2023) or they end up selling the entire site to a residential developer....

Never going to happen?

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