LETTER: Halt the spiral of decline

While ‘war zone’ might be a bit over the top, Annemarie Field is absolutely right to highlight the sorry state of Brassey Parade, particularly the north side of the road [Herald, January 15].

It was disappointing that this did not illicit any responses from Hampden Park residents who have a vested interest in improving the area.

The demise of the shops has been taking place over many years but has accelerated in recent times.

When we moved to Hampden Park 30 years ago, Brassey Parade was a vibrant shopping centre with many independent specialist shops and no vacant premises. There were excellent bakeries, greengrocers, butchers, a delicatessen and several banks. All of these, apart from one bank, have gone.

The main cause of this sad demise is of course the growth of supermarkets, three of which are in easy walking distance from Brassey Parade and a fourth is being added shortly with the opening of Aldi.

This has resulted in the over-capacity of retail outlets in Brassey Parade and while some additional investment to smarten-up the area would not go amiss, it will not provide a long term solution to the problem.

An obvious way forward would be to replace at least some of the shop premises with affordable housing, which is in high demand and short supply in Eastbourne.

Easily said but not so easy to achieve.

The council does not own the premises, has relatively few powers to bring about this change of use and lacks the necessary financial resources to carry out any development itself.

However, doing nothing is not a sensible option either; the downward spiral of decline is bound to continue, resulting in increased vandalism and other social problems.

This in turn will make it more difficult for the existing businesses to survive – then it really will look like a ‘war zone’! Now is a vital time for the sort of creative thinking that we have seen elsewhere in Eastbourne to put the heart back into Brassey Parade.

David Butler

Rosebery Avenue

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