September 2022 marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the Hailsham ‘Town Team’ and Hailsham continues to see some exciting changes which have brought about improvements to the town centre and surrounding urban environment.
The inaugural meeting of the Town Team, now called ‘Hailsham Forward CIC’, was arranged by the Town Council in September 2012 to gather support from anyone who would like to help apply for a bid of up to £100,000 which the government was offering to town and parish councils at the time for a dozen pilot schemes throughout the country.
Funding of £10,000 was provided after the publication of an independent, government commissioned review into the future of high streets compiled by television’s ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas, and a considerable degree of support from the local community enabled the bid to come together with new ideas, new partners and a shared vision to revitalise Hailsham town centre and the surrounding area.
Hailsham Forward, whose members consists of representatives from Hailsham Town Council, Hellingly Parish Council and Wealden District Council, as well as the East Sussex Federation of Small Businesses, Hailsham & District Chamber of Commerce, the Member of Parliament for Wealden and local community groups, has worked on a number of projects since its launch ten years ago and regularly updates its business plan to help drive town revitalisation forward:
Gathering a good deal of information that useful in the context of delivering the public transport infrastructure needed in and around Hailsham. The development of the South Wealden Plan and the Hailsham Town Council Neighbourhood Plan further informed the process of determining the public transport infrastructure required to meet the demands of an expanding town and future development.
Building on the work that the Movement and Access Strategy for Hailsham & Hellingly (MASHH) working group developed, taking into consideration the emerging Local Plan and the potential additional (circa) 2,500 homes for the Hailsham area as it develops solutions to keep the town’s traffic moving.
Hailsham Street Market was launched by Hailsham Forward in August 2013, establishing a diverse and vibrant outdoor market for the sale of locally sourced food, gifts, accessories and speciality goods. Since the establishment of the market, the shopping experience for residents and visitors in the town centre has been enhanced, while complementing the regular farmers’ market operating in the town. The Town Council took over the management and day-to-day running of the street market in April 2018, allowing Hailsham Forward to focus on the delivery of other town revitalisation projects.
The online guide produced by Hailsham Forward continues to expand, allowing visitors to the town to access a comprehensive directory of shops, businesses and leisure providers in the town.
Responding to feedback from consultations with businesses located in the town’s industrial estates, in addition to meetings with East Sussex County Council to determine all the issues that the businesses face and how to start to address these.
Working with Wealden District Council, as part of the Local Plan, to identify potential small business unit facilities for start-up businesses.
Supporting the Hailsham ‘Shop Local’ initiative by encouraging links between education and business, focusing on employment and training, developing relevant vocational training programmes for the young people of Hailsham, and reducing overall any local skill gaps that exist.
Working with Hailsham Active and other organisations to deliver improved sports, leisure and youth facilities within the town, with one such current vision to create a network of cycling/walking/running tracks that connect the town through the established Cuckoo Line.
Working in partnership with the Hailsham & District Chamber of Commerce and other parties to communicate with landlords and tenants, helping to provide resources to facilitate work to be carried out.
Working with partner organisations to establish more police presence within the town centre and industrial estates to reduce crime and the fear of crime and working to provide additional leisure and youth facilities to help with this.
Funding the ‘Hailsham Card’ (set up by Town & City Cards), which offers exclusive discounts and offers to shoppers and giving customers a greater incentive to use Hailsham’s town centre shops.
The creation of the Hailsham Community Groups Forum, a platform for local organisations, clubs, associations and interest groups to share ideas, discuss projects and organise various events, whilst raising the profile of the town and community groups within the town.
“Since its launch in 2012, Hailsham Forward has already built a reputation for being able to deliver in very short timescales, projects that people showed interest in,” said Deputy Town Clerk & Business Enterprise Manager, Mickey Caira. “The important thing for the partnership now is to further build on our successes and achievements by focusing on the projects that Hailsham Forward can have a direct influence over or involvement in.”
Mr Caira added: “There is a common perception that our town centre as it used to exist won’t necessarily be the future of Hailsham, so Hailsham Forward has, over the past ten years, looked at several ways of revitalising the town and bringing people in.”
“By promoting robust cross-sector partnerships for Hailsham and formulating a vision with local community support – as the partnership has successfully done – there is a greater opportunity to tie together public and private investment and to action more sustainable change for the benefit of Hailsham businesses, residents and visitors to the town.”
Terry Hall, Communications Officer
Hailsham Town Council, Market Street, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 2AE
Telephone: 01323 841702 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org