Devastation at Langney Shopping Centre

The centre has remained closed since the incident
The centre has remained closed since the incident

Photographs of the devastation at Langney Shopping Centre have been released as traders and shop workers enter 2013 with uncertainty and frustration.

A large part of the ceiling, around 17ft square, came down in the centre in the middle of the night just before Christmas.

Langney Shopping Centre was deemed a dangerous building by the building control department the next day.

The centre has been closed ever since and this week Matt Deland, the manager of Card Factory, said store managers from the many shops inside the centre were becoming frustrated at the situation.

He said, “I am sure they are doing everything they can but we don’t know what is happening and it is the not knowing which is making things so difficult.”

Investigations are still ongoing and the management of the centre and the owners, London & Associated Properties, are remaining tight-lipped on the future of the building.

A spokesperson from East Sussex Building Control Partnership, which is based at Wealden District Council but includes Eastbourne, said, “We are urgently seeking the building owners structural engineers/building pathologist detailed report to clarify the reasons for the sudden roof failure.

“This will allow for an informed view to be taken by Building Control as to the overall public safety implications for the centre as a whole.

“When received, we will clearly turn this around expediently as we would want to ensure the building owners and tenant shopkeepers can resume operations as soon as possible.”

Matt, who is now working at Card Factory in Hastings while he waits for news, was allowed back in to the building to check his shop on Wednesday (January 2).

He was pleased to see there was no damage to his stock of shop but added, “I was shocked to see the damage inside the centre. You try and imagine what it is going to look like, but you don’t realise how bad it is until you actually see it.

“There is a huge hole in the ceiling – it is really bad.

“However, I am not a structural engineer and I don’t know much about it, so we have just got to wait and see what happens.”

Matt said he had heard some people employed in shops in the centre had been laid off work as a result of the closure. He explained it was also a big loss to the Langney community.

He said, “There are people who come here every day and have a cup of tea or coffee.

“You can almost set your watch by them. They see their friends and do their shopping. I heard of one elderly lady who has no life outside her house now the shopping centre is closed because she can’t get to anywhere else.

“All us managers are keeping in contact. There are lots of rumours going around but we are trying not to listen to them until we know exactly what is happening.”

The rumours include the centre having to be knocked down and Matt added, “Personally, if they do repair it, I don’t think it will be open again before Easter.

“Right now at Card Factory, we would be coming out of the January sale and getting ready for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, we will lose all those sales.”

Tesco is keen not to lose out on customers due to the closure and is running a free bus to its Lottbridge Drove supermarket every half an hour.

Have you been affected by the closure of Langney Shopping Centre? Email Juliet Mead at juliet.mead@eastbourneherald.co.uk or call 01323 414484.