Ambitious plans to develop a purpose-built, state-of-the-art market on the outskirts of Hailsham in East Sussex have been submitted to Wealden District Council.

South East Marts is keen to move out of its constrained town centre site in Market Square and invest several million pounds in a new facility in a move that would be welcomed by livestock farmers across the region.

“The new out-of-town site on the A22 would give farmers much better access and allow us to build a modern market building and other facilities that are in line with current regulations and will help the business continue to grow,” said South East Marts director Roger Waters.

“The market has been in the centre of the town since 1871 and it’s inevitably becoming difficult to keep the older facilities up to scratch. This would be a positive move for the industry and we hope farmers and others will support the plan.”

The town centre site, which is owned by South East Marts, is expected to be redeveloped with retirement homes if both planning applications are successful.

The market is currently performing well, with close to 60,000 head of sheep and between 5,000 and 6,000 head of cattle sold at the site last year. “We are looking at a considerable investment to help the market continue to move forward, benefitting livestock farmers and the local community,” said Roger.

He added that the plans for the new site were available at the current market site, as well as via the district council, if anyone was interested in what was proposed. “These are exciting times, but we need support to make sure our plans come to fruition,” he commented.

The plans have been backed by the NFU, which stressed: “Relocation, with the associated improved facilities, is essential for the long-term viability of the market.”  

East Sussex NFU chair Peter Appleton said the historic market was “part of a critical infrastructure that supports rural livelihoods and traditional patterns of land management in East Sussex and the surrounding counties”.

He added: “Huge investment and redevelopment of the market is necessary to comply with new legislation and that cannot be delivered on the current town centre site. Redevelopment will secure Hailsham market’s long-term future, safeguarding jobs and supporting the production of climate-friendly food for local people.”