Leisure and Public Space
As part of the town centre regeneration we are also looking at how the public open space within the town might be improved. It is hoped that by giving people a more inviting space it will encourage them to visit the town more regularly and stay longer during their visits.
The presence of good parks, squares, gardens and other public spaces in town centres is vital in order to create a town that people want to visit and one that attracts investment. Shops and restaurants are attracted to town centres that offer well-designed, well-managed public spaces which in turn attract customers and employees.
It is notable that there are few green spaces within the town centre itself. The WDC Green Infrastructure Study, 2017 found that the northern part of Hailsham is deficient in neighbourhood scale accessible natural green space.
Increasing the amount of open space in the area supports the desire of a majority of residents. 55% of residents asked thought there needed to be natural green space and 52% would like to see more informal open spaces for picnics etc. (The Wealden Open Space Study, 2017).
The market space is currently the main public space within the centre and comprises an important central location between the High Street, shopping centres and the Church. It is also where the current North/South and East/West pedestrian routes cross.
However, the area is dated and provides limited opportunity for people to relax and interact with each other. As part of any plans for regeneration we would seek to promote the public realm within the town centre and enhance the quality of public space to create a multi-functional space where people enjoy being and feel safe.
As part of the town centre regeneration, we are also looking at the current leisure provision. It is being considered that the existing leisure centre is replaced with new leisure facilities within the new town centre development. Within the south of the district, Hailsham is where the very large majority of planned new housing and therefore population growth will take place. Leisure facilities are key to place making design as they not only speed up the delivery of high quality housing, but they are also able to ensure that new and growing communities are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable in the long term.
The existing leisure offer in Hailsham is relatively small scale but reasonably diverse and caters for a range of age groups within the local population.
Hailsham Leisure Centre is operated by Freedom Leisure on behalf of Wealden District Council. Facilities include a 25m swimming pool, teaching pool, gym, soft play, tenpin bowling and a café. The town directly competes with Eastbourne and as a result would struggle to attract larger operators that require a larger population draw. Any new leisure provision must meet our objectives to promote exercise and health within the community.
Both the Hailsham Club, a private members club for the over 18’s, and the Charles Hunt Centre, a social club for the over 55’s are located to the east of the town centre within the plan area. Any regeneration will plan to relocate both the Hailsham Club and Charles Hunt Centre within new structures at the heart of the existing town centre.
The Council has engaged with ‘Hailsham Active’, which has identified a shortfall in sports hall provision with secured community use within Hailsham. There is currently no sports hall at Hailsham Leisure Centre. In lieu of provision at the Hailsham Leisure Centre, the hall at Hailsham Community College assumes added importance. Hailsham Active is exploring proposals for an outdoor and indoor sports park development in Hailsham.
Increased housing development in Hailsham will lead to a greater requirement for community access to sports halls and leisure facilities.
The aspiration of this regeneration is in line with the objectives of the Vision for Hailsham and the South Wealden Growth Area as identified in both the Wealden Local Plan Submission Version, January 2019 and the Hailsham Neighbourhood Plan Submission Version, March 2019.
“Hailsham Town Centre will continue to improve and expand with…high end leisure facilities. Health and wellbeing and ‘age equality’ are important parts of the strategy, providing necessary health facilities, open space, leisure facilities, green infrastructure and access to the open and tranquil countryside…”
(Vision for South Wealden Growth Area, Wealden Local Plan Submission Version, January 2019)
“There is a presumption against the loss of infrastructure… For the purposes of this policy, infrastructure includes… community halls, leisure and recreation facilities including play pitches and allotments.”
(Policy INF2: Infrastructure Development, Wealden Local Plan Submission Version, January 2019)
“Applications for development that seek to enhance existing community facilities or provide new community facilities in the town centre will be supported.”
(Policy HAIL TC1: Hailsham town centre, Hailsham Neighbourhood Plan Submission Version, March 2019)
“Public Squares: Strengthen and expand the market square, with use of materials consistent with the new materials used along High Street public realm project. It should be designed as a multi-functional space to allow for markets and other activities, but also with opportunities for sitting and incorporating new tree planting.”
(Projects HAIL TC2: Town centre public realm, Hailsham Neighbourhood Plan Submission Version, March 2019)
“Applications should help provide a network of well-designed social and civic spaces that support the cultural and economic life of the town… and enhance the quality of public realm.”
(Policy HAIL TC6: Streets and spaces in the town centre, Hailsham Neighbourhood Plan Submission Version, March 2019)
“Applications to enhance and provide additional community facilities will be supported. Community facilities for the purposes of this policy include education, healthcare, childcare facilities and community halls.”
(Policy HAIL CF1: Community facilities, Hailsham Neighbourhood Plan Submission Version, March 2019)