Much-loved Burgess Hill venue will be missed by ‘so many’

Staff members Fleur Peacock, Andy Squires, Michael Bignell and Hannah Peacock, outside Martlets Hall. Picture: Steve Robards
Staff members Fleur Peacock, Andy Squires, Michael Bignell and Hannah Peacock, outside Martlets Hall. Picture: Steve Robards

A much-loved community venue in Burgess Hill which has hosted thousands of groups since it opened in 1972 will be ‘sorely missed’.

Martlets Hall – located in the heart of Burgess Hill – closed its doors on Saturday, June 30, to allow for the redevelopment of the town centre – a £65million project by developer NewRiver REIT.

Martlets Hall in Burgess Hill closed on June 30. Picture: Derek Martin Photography

Martlets Hall in Burgess Hill closed on June 30. Picture: Derek Martin Photography

That will see the town gain a ten-screen cinema, hotel, 142 flats, a new library, as well as extra retail and restaurant units.

The developer did not include a replacement for the Martlets Hall, which it did not deem viable, despite a public campaign to save the facility.

Fleur Peacock, 27, worked at Martlets Hall for eight years, starting as bar staff and working her way up.

She said: “Martlets has been such a huge part of my life, as it has for the rest of the team.

It will be sorely missed by so many within the community and certainly myself and the rest of the team.

Hannah Peacock

“The small team we have here have built lovely rapports with so many customers, hirers and businesses and it is certainly difficult saying goodbye to the venue.

“Thank you to everyone who has been a part of so many amazing events here and been supportive of the venue over the years.”

Her sister, Hannah Peacock, 36, was also general manager at the hall.

She said: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers over the years who have attended many shows, meetings and events that we have held here.

Cafe staff Kirsty Sobol, Tania Burel and Rupert Mitchell. Picture: Derek Martin Photography

Cafe staff Kirsty Sobol, Tania Burel and Rupert Mitchell. Picture: Derek Martin Photography

“It will be sorely missed by so many within the community and certainly myself and the rest of the team.”

Pru Moore, leader of Burgess Hill Town Council, said the closure was the ‘beginning of a bright new future for Burgess Hill’ and added: “Martlets Hall was very popular in its heyday. Unfortunately over recent years there has been a huge decline in usage. And of course it is no longer a modern building fit for modern purposes.”

Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, cabinet member for economic growth, said the town centre regeneration project will make Burgess Hill a ‘more attractive place’.

He said: “It’s sad to lose a building that has been part of a town for so many years but it’s also an exciting time to think about the future.

Committee members Helen Mullany, Glenda Bowden and Bill Kirwan. Picture: Derek Martin Photography

Committee members Helen Mullany, Glenda Bowden and Bill Kirwan. Picture: Derek Martin Photography

“Work can now start at the end of the summer on the fantastic, £65million town centre regeneration project, which will make Burgess Hill a much more attractive place to shop, relax and spend free time.

“The new shops, hotel, cinema and eating establishments will attract many more people into the town centre, providing a much needed boost for existing local businesses.

“The modern shopping environment will make Burgess Hill a popular place to visit during the day and new restaurants, cafes and the Cineworld cinema will ensure it’s a great place for families to enjoy evening entertainment.”

This summer will see construction work begin for a temporary library in Burgess Hill, developer NewRiver REIT has said. The library is currently located in the Martlets Hall building and will remain open until the works begin, the council has confirmed.

In autumn, the completion of work to accommodate the temporary library is expected and demolition works are due to start.

In winter, NewRiver REIT plans to award the main construction contract and it says the completion of the new retail and leisure quarter is expected in summer 2020.

A spokesman said: “NewRiver REIT is delighted to be bringing forward this exciting town centre regeneration, which will act as a catalyst for further growth and investment for the whole area.

“The closure of Martlets Hall and the relocation of the library to a temporary neighbouring location in the existing shopping centre are one of the various steps required in this complex redevelopment which is being delivered in carefully planned phases.

“This next phase allows us to carry out further enabling works on the main development site in readiness for construction works.

“NewRiver’s redevelopment will rejuvenate Burgess Hill and create a vibrant shopping, dining and leisure destination in the heart of the town.

“Confirmed occupiers include Next, Nando’s and New Look with further occupiers to be announced in the coming months.

“Leading names and family-friendly restaurants will bring the town centre to life and provide an enhanced offering for those living in Burgess Hill or coming from further afield.

“This will create new job opportunities for the community alongside new homes and a ten-screen Cineworld multiplex cinema.”

A revised funding plan for a community and performance venue to replace Martlets Hall is due to be debated next month.

‘End of an era’ – community says goodbye to ‘iconic’ Martlets Hall