The number of unemployed people in Hailsham has fallen by almost a quarter since last summer.
Councillor Roy Galley, Wealden District Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said the town was starting to enjoy economic growth.
He said: “The number of people seeking Job Seeker’s Allowance in July was nearly 25 per cent down on July 2014 and the lowest since 2007. Vacant shops on the High Street, a major concern when Wealden District Council started its Streets Ahead initiative in 2013, are now few in number. A wide range of retailers have come to the town, which is enjoying a period of growth as new housing is developed along Battle Road.
“A lot of this progress is due to the positive approach of residents and businesses combined with the work of Hailsham Forward and the town council.
“As Hailsham continues to grow in size, we are seeing a welcome return to economic prosperity in the town.”
Anton Bree, of chartered surveyors Ross & Co, agrees there had been a resurgence of retail activity.
He said: “I have never seen the retail market looking stronger in Hailsham. In 2008 at the start of the recession, there were 29 vacant units, today there is now less than six.
“The new homes being built in Hailsham and Hellingly have attracted small and medium-sized retailers from across Sussex to set up in the town. National names, such as Iceland, Subway and WH Smith have come to Hailsham as well as well-known local firms like Truffles bakery, Toytown and Millies. The arrival of the major supermarket chains Asda and Tesco has had a positive effect in bringing more shoppers to the town.
Rob Slater, chairman of Hailsham Forward, said the town’s shops were seeing an increase in footfall. He added: “We are definitely seeing an increase in footfall among the High Street shops. As well as the increase in the size of the town, the regular street markets organised by Hailsham Forward are attracting people to the town, making use of the free car parking. We are looking forward to the High Street improvement next year which will improve traffic flow and provide more opportunity for pedestrians to browse the window displays.”
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