Cultural provision would need ‘support of the community’

Scores of residents attended the meeting on Tuesday SUS-171104-230122001
Scores of residents attended the meeting on Tuesday SUS-171104-230122001

Plans for a cultural arts and heritage provision in Burgess Hill would need the support of the community, according to the leader of Burgess Hill Town Council.

The potential plans for the new provision were discussed at the annual Burgess Hill Town Council meeting held in Cyrpus Hall, in Cyprus Road, Burgess Hill on Tuesday (April 11).

Scores of residents listened to a presentation by David Clarke, managing director at DCA Consultants, about potential plans for the new provision if it were to go ahead.

The presentation sought to answer three questions: whether Burgess Hill needed the provision, whether they could afford it and whether it could be sustained.

Mr Clarke said: “Firstly, I think the answers are pretty clear, Burgess Hill needs it.

“There is considerable enthusiasm and willingness to support a development among local groups already involved in the arts and community activity.

“Next is cost. The building will cost around £5million and I think this will be a serious challenge to finance.

“Lastly, there are also significant challenges in making arts centres and community facilities that are financially sustainable without subsidy in the long term.

“This is a project that, if supported by the community, can be successful. The community can help provide the funding as well as sustaining the building.”

A number of residents in attendance questioned the need to build a new centre whilst the existing Martlets Hall could still be used for orchestral performances.

Mr Clarke added: “The plan for this arts and heritage provision is to provide around 250 seats for people to attend orchestra performances and the like.

“The hope is that a smaller number of seats will mean more sell-outs and therefore the council has less need to subsidise the building in the future.

“The plan for this new building is a state of the art venue for arts and heritage.”

Leader of Burgess Hill Town Council councillor Andrew Barrett-Miles said he wanted to get a ‘move on’ with the plans.

He said: “I agree also with everything that residents have been saying here this evening.

“We as a council want to get a move on and start progressing but we need the support of the community.

“We could sit around and wait for funding to come in or we could get a move on and decide we want to do this.”

A number of other residents were concerned that more than 60 societies would have nowhere to go once the Martlets Hall is knocked down and work on the new site has not started.

Burgess Hill town mayor councillor Jacqui Landriani said she could not give a date for when work would start in demolishing the Martlets Hall.