Hailsham Aspires: Town Centre Regeneration Masterplan

The Assignment

Hailsham Aspires was created by Wealden District Council to bring forward plans that enhance and regenerate Hailsham Town Centre to support local communities now and into the future. The Council recognised the need to regenerate the centre of Hailsham and deliver a revitalised town centre in line with the ‘Vision for Hailsham’, as identified in the Hailsham Neighbourhood Plan, and offer Hailsham a bright future as the key growth town in East Sussex.

A project team was assembled to develop a masterplan for the town centre that both enhances and revitalises Hailsham. The vision for the regeneration of Hailsham Town Centre was to create a welcoming, inclusive and impressive design that draws on the history of the town and enhances its surroundings.

The Role

We were appointed as part of the RIBA 2 masterplan project team to lead on the viability review of the merging Hailsham Aspires options and the final preferred option. By undertaking viability studies we helped steer and advise the project team as the masterplan scenarios evolved. Key to our approach, we managed the team to offer a constant narrative throughout the process so a clear rationale for decision making could be followed and audited.

We developed a bespoke model for appraising the viability of the masterplan which focused on generating a residual land value for the scheme. During the early stages of the design work, the model allowed for sensitivity analysis to be undertaken so the associated challenges and opportunities would be quickly identified and help inform the masterplan.

A key element of the masterplan was the inclusion of a new leisure centre, with the inclusion of a new swimming facility. Our work involved holding conversations with the Council’s leisure team and their specialist advisors so that the associated cost and revenue assumptions could be accurately assumed.

Our role required working with and as part of a comprehensive project team that included architects, engineers, cost consultants, town planners, communication consultants and a number of other urban design and survey specialists. We attended regular project team meetings and periodic milestone and gateway steering group (governance) meetings where we presented findings, identified risks and made recommendations.

Key Outcomes

Our work supported the Council in steering and refining the Hailsham Aspires masterplan, identifying issues and opportunities and a transparent audit to explain how and why the masterplan has evolved from a viability point of view. By approaching the commission this way, our work was used to reassure and inform stakeholders, including planning case officers as to the scope and scale of the masterplan, and in particular the number of residential units and typologies as well as the proportion of affordable housing units.