The demolition of the former Royal British Legion (RBL) building in Burgess Hill was recently discussed at a town council meeting.
Councillor Andrew Barrett-Miles explained that the council had purchased the building because it was seen as a potential brick in cultural plans that were part of the town’s Neighbourhood Plan.
The town council had hoped to convert the building as it existed.
Since then, a Cultural Quarter Steering Group, made up of councillors and community groups was established.
The group had done an initial appraisal to establish a long-term need for a building in the centre of town that could support cultural activities.
The town council commissioned a report which showed that a community space with a performance space in the centre of town could be justified.
This was the most likely site for a development of this nature but the former RBL building was deemed not suitable to be converted to meet the needs of a 21st century venue.
Investigations at other sites showed that to adapt a building is more or less the same cost as constructing a new building.
It was estimated that the cost to demolish the building would be in the region of £90,000.
Councillor Barrett-Miles stressed that the building was currently costing money to run and that it was an unsafe site that would deteriorate over the winter.
The food bank has been using the building and has been informed of the council’s intentions. They are currently looking for another site.
It was suggested in the meeting that the council call for tenders to demolish the building and remove the rubble once it had been satisfactorily established that the building would not be used.
Councillor Barrett-Miles asked the council to agree the proposal.
Leader of the council Pru Moore seconded the proposal and agreed that it was a good business model, should the group decide to move swiftly, then it would not need to come back to a council meeting.
It was noted in the meeting that this was the ‘first step on a journey that would leave behind a facility from the 1970s and onto a 21st century venue that was fit for purpose’.