There can be no doubt that Eastbourne town centre is in need of regeneration and the outline plans for the future of Terminus road as reported in last week’s Herald are on the whole to be welcomed.
Our high street, which should be the jewel in Eastbourne’s crown, has failed for a long time to sparkle with its excessive number of pound shops and charity shops.
When you add to this the hazards involved of crossing from one side of “Diesel Alley” to the other, especially for the infirm or people in wheelchairs, and the toxic fumes inhaled by pedestrians in this busy, bus-dominated area, you also have to acknowledge the presence of real dangers here.
Derelict stores, the main example of which must be the long closed Co-op store diagonally opposite from T.J. Hughes which has recently called in administrators, do nothing to inspire confidence commercially in our town and are further blots on our town’s landscape.
I very much regret, incidentally, the imminent closure of The Early Learning Centre in the Arndale Centre, as well as the problems facing Thorntons.
But these failed or failing businesses must serve as a potent reminder that even major regeneration schemes cannot guarantee the success of individual retail enterprises, especially in times of deep recession.
The extension of the Arndale Centre towards the railway station and the pedestrianisation of this area can only enhance Eastbourne as a shopping centre, although I fear the resultant construction will probably be as uniform architecturally as that to be found in many towns and cities across the land.
In any event, my sincere hope is that the aesthetically pleasing building housing the T.J. Hughes store will not go the way of its close neighbour, the former Co-op.
I must admit to something of a sentimental attachment to T.J. Hughes where after our wedding over 40 years ago we purchased many of our first essential household effects.