Leading UK architectural practice Conran and Partners has been appointed by Wealden District Council to develop a new master plan for the historic town of Hailsham in East Sussex. The master plan will offer a clear, strategic vision for the town centre, encouraging the development of new retail, employment, residential and leisure opportunities as well as enhanced public and civic spaces and improved car parking.
Tasked with developing the ‘Hailsham Aspires’ brand, Conran and Partners’ plan will prioritise pedestrians over vehicles and improve their access and journey through the town, create new open spaces with views of the surrounding Sussex countryside, and reclaim the town’s historic importance as a hub for the local population. This will re-energise a significant area to the north east of the town centre – parts of which include the high street – as well as Wealden District Council offices and Vicarage Field Shopping Centre. It also takes in the historic St Mary’s Church, a Grade I-listed building dating from the fifteenth century.
Lee Davies, Partner, Conran and Partners says: “Wealden District Council has recognised our expertise in consultative master planning and regeneration by selecting us for this exciting programme of work. We will draw on our wide experience of working in sensitive contexts – from Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to UNESCO World Heritage sites – and consult closely with local people to ensure that the regeneration strategy both respects Hailsham’s historic setting and also enhances the town’s existing commercial offer and night-time economy. We will also be exploring opportunities to deliver a significant number of much needed new homes for both private and social housing providers.”
The ‘Hailsham Aspires’ vision seeks to “establish a vibrant, activity-based modern market town offering a diverse town centre offer with civic centre hub, public social spaces affording better connectivity across the town centre and surrounding area, to attract and maintain residents and visitors whilst promoting local job creation and long- term sustainability”.
As well as improving the retail and leisure offer at Vicarage Field, the project brief includes:
• New leisure facilities
• An enhanced public sector hub with improved co-working opportunities
• Improved relocated health care facilities
• New homes in the town centre to meet a range of local housing needs
• Relocation and improvement of facilities for the Hailsham Club and Charles Hunt Centre
• Consolidation of car parking arrangements
• Energy-efficient new buildings, sustainable infrastructure and clean energy options to support the Council’s Climate Change commitments
The Council has acquired most of the land within the area of the town covered by Hailsham Aspires as part of its investment to ensure any approach to urban regeneration is comprehensive and capable of being delivered. Conran and Partners will consult on – and develop – a design process which will result in an outline planning submission to the Council.
Councillor Bob Standley, Leader of the Council and chairman of the project sponsor board says: “We are excited to have been able to assemble such a high quality team of specialists to help regenerate this part of Hailsham. We are impressed with the emphasis our team is placing on collaboration at every stage of the design process. The findings from our recent Hailsham Aspires consultation will now help the design team create a regeneration proposal which will inspire and help secure the future prosperity of the town.”
Conran and Partners’ bid was one of five shortlisted submissions and considered by Wealden District Council through a competition administered by East Sussex Procurement Hub. The wider project team includes engineers Hilson Moran, town planners Lambert Smith Hampton and design team project managers Mott MacDonald.