Burgess Hill misses out on first round of Levelling-up Funding in Budget
A major redevelopment project in Burgess Hill has missed out on the first round of Levelling-up Funding announced in last week’s Budget.
The government awarded a total of £1.7bn to projects across the country.
While the Burgess Hill bid was unsuccessful this time around, it could still secure funding in later rounds as the total pot is worth £4.8bn.
The money would help kick-start the regeneration scheme, which appears to have stalled despite some demolition work carried out.
District council leader Jonathan-Ash Edwards was disappointed but said Burgess Hill’s bid was ‘strong’ and the council would be seeking to bid again in the next round.
But town council leader Robert Eggleston called for a ‘plan B’ adding: “If Burgess Hill’s town centre is to have any chance of a sustained economic and social recovery it is absolutely essential that new investment is brought forward quickly.”
Redevelopment of the Martlets was first approved in 2016was first approved in 2016, but a revised application including 172 flats, a ten-screen cinema, bowling alley, gym and hotel was approved last year.
Mr Ash-Edwards said with more than 300 bids submitted for the funding it was a highly competitive process.
He added: “Importantly, only around a third of the Levelling Up Fund has been announced in round one. We will be seeking to bid in the next round to secure the funding that is required to unlock the private sector investment needed to deliver the planned town centre regeneration, public realm, the sustainable travel improvements and the creation of a new digital hub.
“The bid for Burgess Hill is strong and these are important projects for Burgess Hill and the local economy and the district council will continue to work with our local MPs to make the case for them to Government.”
But Mr Eggleston, also a Lib Dem district councillor, said he was ‘dismayed, frustrated and angry’ the town’s bid had not been allocated funding last week, and said residents had waited ‘far too many years’ to see the redevelopment take place.
“We have sacrificed much in that time, including the Martlets Hall which was demolished on the promise of a redevelopment that hasn’t materialised. This £14m bid would have meant that the redevelopment could, at last, have gone ahead.
“If Burgess Hill’s town centre is to have any chance of a sustained economic and social recovery it is absolutely essential that new investment is brought forward quickly.
“So whilst I hope that Mid Sussex District Council is able to resubmit its bid it is clearly vital now that there is a deliverable Plan B.”
He said he had been calling on MSDC and New Rivier to come up with a suitable alternative proposal which residents could be consulted on by Easter 2022.
“Then it should be rapidly implemented if we are ruled out of the Levelling Up fund. The residents of Burgess Hill have been let down and left disappointed too many times over the last 15 years and our patience has simply run out.”
Justin Thomas, Director at NewRiver, said he was disappointed by the decision, and funding such as this was a ‘hugely important driver to bring forward regeneration projects’.
“NewRiver has demonstrated its commitment to working with the public sector, and has already invested over £2m to enable the regeneration of the town centre to progress,” he said. “We remain committed to the delivery of this scheme and will continue to work together with the Council, proposed tenants, retailers and existing occupiers to kickstart the revitalisation of the town centre.”