The roof of Langney Shopping Centre caved in during the early hours of this morning.
The incident happened at around 4.30am when fire crews were called out when the alarm in the centre started.
Overnightt there had been heavy rain and gale-force winds in the area.
Langney Shopping Centre was closed this morning and the area was cordoned off. Visitors were even stopped from driving into the car park.
A combination of timber, metal and glass came crashing down, leaving a hole measuring around 10 metres. Fortunately, no-one was in the building at the time and no-one was injured.
The incident happened above the square in the shopping centre, just outside the Windmill Restaurant where during the day people sit out in the shopping centre.
Staff who turned up for work that morning said they were pleased nobody had been hurt because the incident could have had tragic consequences if it had happened during the day.
Christa Fernandes, “It is the week before Christmas, so it would have been really busy in there.
“There would have been lots of mums and kids. Thank goodness no-one was hurt.
“The businesses will lose out on a lot of money but money comes and goes - you can’t put a price on people’s lives.”
The area around the shopping centre was secured this morning as building inspectors and shop management surveyed the damage.
The building must now undergo assessment and it is unlikely it will open before Christmas.