The last stage of approval for the Arndale Centre extension to go-ahead has been given by a government minister.
The £85 million refurbishment has already been given planning permission and other approvals but just needed the final green light from a government minister after a public inquiry late last year.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark this week approved the Compulsory Purchase Order issued by Eastbourne Borough Council for land needed in Terminus Road and Sutton Road to enable the extension to go ahead.
The scheme is being funded entirely by Performance Retail Limited Partnership, a subsidiary company of Legal & General, which owns the Arndale Centre.
Mr Clark followed the recommendation of Planning Inspector Andrew Mead who said in his report, “I support the council’s view that development on the scale proposed in the scheme would represent a significant investment in the town centre, with considerable benefits to the wellbeing of the borough especially in terms of becoming a retail destination for existing residents and those who live elsewhere.
“I also agree the new cinema and restaurants in the scheme would contribute to the evening economy of the town centre which would secure additional spending within the town. In addition I consider it would be most likely that additional new retailers would be attracted to the town centre and investment creating a significant number and range of new employment opportunities.”
Mr Mead said there would also be significant social and environmental benefits from the scheme that would create a “more attractive area for the public to visit and enjoy”.
The new 170,000 sq ft scheme, that includes the demolition of buildings west of the centre along Terminus Road, will bring an additional 22 new retail units, approximately 300 extra car parking spaces, seven restaurants and a nine-screen cinema to Eastbourne. The scheme is expected to create approximately 800 retail and catering jobs.
Neil Crawford, retail development manager at Legal & General Property, said, “This is a huge milestone towards the delivery of the new extension and is fantastic news for Eastbourne. We are now able to look at detailed timings of when local people can expect to see their new centre up and running.”
Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council David Tutt said, “This is fantastic news for the future of our town. The development of our town centre has been a long held ambition and this decision means that it will remain on track with new shops appearing by the end of next year and new restaurants and multiplex cinema the year after. When linked to the Devonshire Park project and business park at Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne is undergoing a transformation unparalleled in decades.”
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell said, “This redevelopment will be a massive boost to Eastbourne’s economy, so it was important the final parts of the plans were put in place and this purchase order was activated.
“We can now look forward to a transformed Arndale shopping centre - one that will be a draw for visitors and a local amenity for residents.”
Signings for the new extension so far are: Cineworld, Next, H&M and restaurants Nando’s, Carluccio’s, Wagamama, Byron, Chiquito and Frankie & Benny’s. Further signings are expected to be announced soon.
Work is already well underway to carry out the first £2 million phase of the extension to create a contemporary glass atrium at the centre’s west entrance, nearest Banker’s Corner, and upgrade nearby shop fronts and facades to be in keeping with the style of the new extension.
Kier Construction, with a regional office in Crawley, is the main contractor for this work. A temporary entrance has been created to allow access to the Centre throughout the period to ensure that it is business as usual for shops and customers.
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