Funding plan for new Burgess Hill arts centre passes first hurdle

Graphic of Burgess Hill community arts venue plans. Picture: BHTC SUS-180625-130252001
Graphic of Burgess Hill community arts venue plans. Picture: BHTC SUS-180625-130252001

A revised funding plan for a community and performance venue to replace the Martlets Hall in Burgess Hill has passed its first finance scrutiny hurdle.

The new plan was considered by members of Burgess Hill Town Council’s finance committee on Thursday, and will be recommended the to full council for final consideration.

The Martlets Hall closed its doors for the final time on Saturday, and will be demolished as part of a £65million project by NewRiver to regenerate the town centre.

Campaigners fought to save the hall, and when it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, called for a replacement venue to serve the community.

But the original funding plan which would have seen a rise in council tax for Burgess Hill residents was rejected when it was put to a public vote.

Now a fresh plan has been developed by the Cultural Quarter Steering Group, which has indicated the Town Council would need to obtain funding of £3 million, via a loan from the Public Works Loan Board, towards an overall build cost of £5million, with the balance being raised through a combination of fundraising, grants and other council reserves.

A spokesman for the town council said: “Central to the funding plan is for the loan of £3 million to be affordable and sustainable and not to require any increase to residents’ annual Council Tax bills toward the loan repayment. The plan, presented to the Town Council’s Finance Members, demonstrated clearly how this could be achieved through a combination of using revenue generated by the growth in new housing in the town, budget savings and the use of specific Council reserves.

“After an in-depth discussion looking at all aspects of the funding plan, Members of the Finance Key Area Group agreed the plan was financially sound and would deliver an affordable facility residents of the town would welcome and be proud of. Members approved the funding plan with a recommendation for the plan to be forwarded to full Council for final consideration.”

Former Strictly Come Dancing winner to British Junior Golf Tour players at Lindfield Golf Club

Heatwave to continue across Sussex over coming week