Fire-wrecked Uckfield firms open for business

Uckfield businesses
Uckfield businesses

The painstaking reconstruction of a listed building in Uckfield High Street virtually destroyed by fire in September 2012 has been completed.

After 15 months’ working from offices at solicitors Dawson Hart, marketing firm The Marketing Eye moved back into their Nelson House HQ on the first floor of the 15th century building on December 21.

Uckfield-based commercial agent Chris Lawson said shops occupied by the British Heart Foundation, Halifax Building Society and Natural Nails have already been handed to leaseholders, leaving the Sense shop to be confirmed. He said delays were caused by the fireproofing of a lift.

The whole of Olives Yard is now open for business. New restaurant Thyme for Food and Friends (which hosted UckfieldFM’s Christmas party), glazing firm Crystal Vision, hair and beauty shop Bliss and pet supplies firm Paws and Claws are going great guns in the attractive mews just off the High Street.

Neil Edwards,Marketing Eye boss, said: “If there is one thing I have learnt during these past months, it’s not where you work, but who you work with. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to have faced this challenge with. We want to give a big thank you to Dawson Hart for being such brilliant hosts over the past 15 months and to everyone that has supported us along the way.”

But Chris Lawson says delays have been exacerbated by Wealden’s inertia. He said: “Three weeks ago we made an appointment for the insurance assessor for the building’s freeholders to attend a meeting with Wealden’s listed building officer. The meeting was scheduled for 12.30pm Tuesday but on Monday they rang to cancel saying they’d only just picked up the papers. We had to pay £150 for the meeting - which I think is outrageous . This is typical of the council’s lack of help for local business.”

Wealden’s head of planning and building control, Kelvin Williams said: “We suspended our usual protocol to ensure the owner could get work completed as soon as possible, and we have also waived the £180 planning charge. Our examination of the submitted papers indicated the final decision on loss adjustment could not be made by a conservation officer alone, and we have proposed a new date in the next few days for a conclusive meeting. Wealden is one of the busiest planning authorities in the country. We apologise if we are sometimes unable to give all our customers the individual priority they may feel they deserve.”