Readers’ mixed reaction to Arndale Centre plans

AMBITIOUS £70m plans to completely revamp the Arndale Centre have had a mixed reaction from Herald readers.

Artist’s impressions of the ambitious scheme were revealed in last week’s paper as the official plans were submitted.

If approved, the shopping centre will be transformed by 2015, with Legal & General Property and Strathclyde Pension Fund footing the bill.

The public will be able to view details of the planning application at an exhibition to be held in the Arndale Centre on April 12 and April 13.

A similar exhibition last October was attended by more than 5,000 with an overwhelming majority supporting the extension to the centre.

However, discussions on our online version of the story, sparked some less than positive feedback.

Malcolm Rasala said, “Same old same old. Looks like a design plucked from Luton or some other same-old shopping centre. No originality. No Creativity. Nothing that sets Eastbourne apart from every other boring shopping precinct. It could be Brighton. It could be Bootle. It could be Blackpool.

“When will we come into the 21st century and be blessed with 21st century original creative thinking?

“[It is] just Arndale Centre Two plus greasy spoon Terminus Road and probably more dead people’s clothes shops. What an opportunity missed.”

Another reader, posting on our website as Veracity, said they believed town shopping would continue to die a death at the hands of huge out-of-town malls, regardless of how much money your pour into local centres.

“Ever been to Bluewater?” the poster asked fellow readers, “That’s how shopping should be. Huge car park, just off a main road, loads of eateries. Even I, with a usual shopping tolerance of about 20 minutes, can happily spend a day wandering around fortified by the occasional coffee and burger while my wife does the serious stuff in the clothes shops.

“Let’s face it. Eastbourne, like Margate, Hastings, Southend and the rest of the dead seaside towns, would need the whole town centre and seafront demolished and redeveloped if it’s to catch up with the 21st century. It won’t happen.”

Eastofthepier added, “It will all be a waste of time if we don’t get John Lewis or similar. That’s what brings people in.”

Not all the feedback was negative. Web user EastbourneCan hit back, “The posts against this story beggar belief. A developer is confident enough about Eastbourne’s future to invest £70m in the town. We should put the flags out. Not liking the design is fair enough, but not wanting the scheme at all - that defies all logic.”

It was a sentiment shared by Stuart Lambert who said people doubting the viability of the scheme had missed the point. He said, “The planning application has been submitted by an investor willing to spend £70m on improving the shopping experience in Eastbourne. They want to do it, have the cash and just need planning approval.

“One reason we have so many empty shops in Eastbourne town centre is because of the pull of other shopping centres in easy commute – Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Bluewater, Lakeside, London. What creates the pull is the big named stores my examples above have. The current town centre lacks large enough units to attract these names.

“Even if the current plans only bring Eastbourne up to the same standards as nearby towns, at least it will give our independent traders and businesses a level paying field to demonstrate how Eastbourne can differentiate itself.”

What do you think of the plans? What shops would you like to see? Email and remember to include your name and the street you live on.