Businesses reluctant to sell up and move to make way for the extension of Eastbourne’s Arndale Centre have been given a choice to either sell up or face a lengthy legal battle.
Developers have been in talks with traders in shops along the stretch of Terminus Road affected by the £85 million extension.
And while some have agreed to sell up, the Herald understands negotiations are ongoing with up to six property owners.
If they refuse to accept inflated and generous offers from the Arndale Centre bosses for their properties then Eastbourne Borough Council, which has Compulsory Purchase Order powers, can acquire the property and pay compensation based on the market value.
If those businesses object, a Public Inquiry – as to whether those properties are needed for the Arndale Centre extension and the CPOs should be confirmed – is likely to be held which could take up to nine months to complete, cost taxpayers thousands of pounds and, say observers, delay the much needed improved shopping centre.
The £85 million plan will provide up to 24 new stores between the existing Arndale Centre and the former Gildredge Pub.
Seven new restaurants and a nine screen multiplex cinema are also included in the scheme along with new and improved pedestrian access, a two storey extension to the existing car park, new shop fronts on Terminus Road and a greatly enhanced surrounding streetscape.
The development is a private sector proposal from Performance Retail Limited Partnership (PRLP) in which Legal & General has a majority share.
The old Gildredge Pub site was recently secured and boarded up in preparation for the next phase of the development work.
It is the shops and businesses between the existing Arndale Centre and the former Gildredge Pub which are at the centre of the negotiations.
Compulsory acquisition of premises is a last resortCouncil leader David Tutt
In most cases, discussions with representatives of the properties within the redevelopment area have been very positive and as a result the majority of those properties have been purchased, but several remain in private ownership.
If it transpires that agreements cannot be reached, Eastbourne Borough Council will use its statutory powers to compulsory purchase those premises to assist PRLP with the development.
Eastbourne Borough Council leader Liberal Democrat David Tutt, said, “The decisions being taken by the council now will shape the future of Eastbourne town centre for generations to come.
“The compulsory acquisition of premises is a last resort and one that we are taking in a measured way according to very clear legal parameters.
“While we want to achieve a sensational shopping experience for local people, we must also give careful consideration to the interests of people who own properties that are required for the development to go-ahead.”
Leader of the Conservatives on Eastbourne council David Elkin said, “It’s a fine balance between achieving our ambitions for the town centre and the interests of our established businesses. We are endeavouring to maintain that balance.”
Details of the latest stage in the process of the Arndale Centre regeneration can be viewed at the Central Library Monday to Saturday and the 1 Grove Road council offices Monday to Friday.
People can also go online at www.eastbourne.gov.uk/businesses/regeneration/arndale-centre-extension
Objections to the Compulsory Purchase Order notice must be made in writing to the Secretary of State by March 27 2015.