Clothes and homeware chain Next has been announced as the third major anchor store for the £85m extension to the Arndale Centre.
Although Next already has a store in the centre, it currently occupies a unit which will be demolished during the extension work.
But the company has taken out a 10-year lease for a 21,000 sq ft store in the new retail and leisure extension at the centre.
Legal & General Property has announced the news yesterday, and it follows the news that H&M and Cineworld have also been signed up for the extension.
Work on the 170,000 sq ft scheme, arranged over two floors, will contain an additional 22 retail units and seven restaurant units, as well as a multi-screen digital cinema and significant extension to the car park.
With the completion targeted for 2018, work is due to start on site in late 2015, with a phased opening.
Next and H&M are forecast to open in early 2017.
Michael Barrie, director of fund management at Legal & General Property, said, “Another major step forward for the Arndale Centre extension, this latest anchor letting to Next allows the retailer to significantly expand its town centre presence and offer, bringing full ranges and services.
“Providing the centre of Eastbourne with one of the best shopping offers in the region, the development will not only attract visitors from across the south of England but will act as an important catalyst for the town’s wider regeneration.”
Mixed views met the news on the Herald’s Facebook page.
Ben Austin said, “Let’s be honest, Eastbourne town centre has been in decline for years with very little by way of shopping options generally. For a town of this size it’s criminal that shoppers drive by Eastbourne on their way to Brighton.
“I’m sure we would all love to see a town full of successful independent shops but the truth is from what I can see, many have tried and failed presumably due to lack of footfall.
“Surely investing in a new improved shopping centre and attracting big businesses such as H&M can only be a good thing in terms of increasing trade and such an increase must subsequently improve the chances of independents surviving.”
But Daniel J van Kleeff said, “Eastbourne hasn’t got an infrastructure capable of coping with an increase in traffic to the town centre.
“Prudential should push forward with redevelopment of the Crumbles retail park where there is more space, more parking and easier access plus likely to attract the likes of John Lewis whose out of town ‘at home’ stores are fantastic.”
Rob Coleman said, “Let’s be positive about the town and turn it around. Most of you seem to want to keep Eastbourne in the dark ages.”
For more information on the centre’s expansion, visit www.eastbournearndaleshopping.co.uk