Flats and shops plan goes ahead in Heathfield

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The western gateway to Heathfield High Street is set to be transformed by a striking development of flats and shops topped by an elegant triangular tower.

Wealden councillors have approved a plan lodged by Mid Sussex Homes to build on the site of the former Dream Machines car showroom - currently empty and full of debris from a broken ceiling.

Heathfield parish councillors recommended that the development should go ahead. At Wealden’s last north area planning committee meeting where the 115 home scheme behind the police station was agreed, Cllr Patrick Coffey said: “This will revitalise the western end of the High Street and it is a very welcome addition to the town.”

Existing buildings will be demolished to make way for a mixed use development of four shops, four self-contained offices and five two-bedroom apartments over three floors. Mid Sussex Homes plan to occupy one of the first floor office suites and they will manage tenancies of the flats.

The application states: “The fact that the site wraps around a prominent road junction calls for an architectural form which would be prominent at this location and create an attractive street scene from all directions.

It helps emphasise the gateway location and creates a focal point at the end of the High Street.”

They say building will not impact on the railway tunnel 20 metres away.

And the style of the bulding has been designed to echo the character of Heathfield itself. In their application, scheme designers, MJB Architects of Uckfield, say they have borne in mind the distinctive appearance of the town’s most prominent buildings. These, they say, often date from the Victorian and Edwardian periods with ornamental detail, red and buff bricks. This will be echoed in the new scheme which has projecting bays, varied eaves and ridge heights, an ornamental brick gable and attractive tower.

It’s believed that four modern shops will create increased commercial vitality as smaller units elsewhere in the town do not attract larger retailers .

Trees along the southern boundary will be retained and a courtyard will contain low level landscaped beds with native tree planting.

Mid Sussex Homes are an established local company which has completed a number of developments in and around Heathfield.

After the car showroom closed in 2008 an application was submitted for a much larger scheme comprising 21 flats.

Although the principle was welcomed, the large size of the development resulted in planning refusal.