New ‘Food Street’ concept is launched in Eastbourne

Plans to transform a section of Eastbourne into a ‘Food Street’ have started to take shape this week.

Eastbourne Borough Council is aiming to transform the seafront section of Terminus Road into a pedestrianised ‘Food Street’ full of food and drink businesses.

In documents from the council it was revealed the space would become a ‘vibrant, independent food and drink based economy’ with the aim of ‘supporting local business and delivering something distinctive that strengthens the local economy’.

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The specific site focus is 208-262 Terminus Road, which currently has a mix of commercial premises.

Food Street plan for Terminus Road. James Wilson and Colin Knights (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210311-160020008

A council spokesperson said, “It is currently constrained by a lack of identity and a disconnection from the heart of the town centre.”

At the moment the initiative is in phase one, with a number of new independent businesses moving into the street and one already trading.

Chris Connelley, from Eastbourne Borough Council, has been leading the initiative and working with businesses to get the idea off the ground.

He said when the council acquired Victoria Mansions in Terminus Road, thought moved to the use of the downstairs units, many of which had been empty for a while.

Food Street plan for Terminus Road. Morgan, Lauren and Josephine Pollard of 'To the Rise bakery' (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210311-155933008

The idea of a food quarter close to the seafront formed and Chris said people ‘loved it’.

He said, “It took off from day one. There has been a constant interest from people wanting to get involved.”

To be eligible businesses need to be independent and it’s even better if they’re local. Mainly, Chris said he’s ‘looking for different’.

In the longer term the aim is for the whole street to be pedestrianised with outdoor seating.

Food Street plan for Terminus Road. Chris Connelley (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210311-160031008

Chris said, “We want it to be the place people choose to come when they want a good time in Eastbourne.”

Although Chris said all units are currently taken, “Tomorrow’s wannabe food entrepreneurs should watch this space!”

Victoria Butchers is the first site open to the public as part of the initiative.

James Wilson and Colin Knights worked together at Sharnfold Farm and moved around before opening their own place.

James said, “We worked together before, we kept moving on together and then set this place up.”

James led the way with the business, even designing the open and spacious shop floor with his father-in-law – something that was a conscious decision following pandemic two-metre rules.

He said, “It’s a family business with local, good quality, produce.”

James said all their beef/lamb/pork is from Herstmonceux and he’s wanting to keep all the produce local.

In terms of the initiative, James said, “It’s fantastic for the town. It will make the site a lifeline from the centre of town to the beach.”

A few doors down, three sisters have taken the term ‘family business’ to the next level by planning to open their first bakery in the new year.

Morgan, Lauren and Josephine Pollard turned to sourdough bread and sweet buns in lockdown creating ‘To the Rise Bakery’.

From home they produced the baked goods to be delivered to private customers, selling at markets and wholesale level too.

The sisters said, “Two years on, we’re wanting to grow and expand – we’re bursting at the seams now.

“We’re really excited to be part of this.”

The trio heard about the initiative through a friend and got in touch with Chris.

They said, “We fell in love with the street. We’re born and raised Eastbourne so to be next to the sea is so nice.

“To be surrounded by other independent businesses is really important too because it means we’ll all compliment and support each other.

“All our bread is 100 per cent sourdough and everything we make it handcrafted over time.”

The sisters have set up a crowdfunding page to cover the remaining costs of transforming the space into a bakery. To support them click here.

Councillor Stephen Holt, deputy leader and cabinet member for financial services, said, “I am delighted that our vision for a fantastic new food and drink district in Eastbourne has been realised with the launch of ‘Food Street’ in Victoria Place at the seafront end of Terminus Road.

“Victoria Place – the gateway to the seafront – is the perfect location, building on the reputation this area already has for restaurants and cafes, and creating a distinctive space where people can be assured of enjoying high quality food and drink.

“We are committed to supporting local business and welcome the boost ‘Food Street’ gives to Eastbourne’s economy.”