New funding plan for arts venue to replace Martlets Hall

An artist impression of the community and performance venue. Picture: Burgess Hill Town Council
An artist impression of the community and performance venue. Picture: Burgess Hill Town Council

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

It comes after residents voted against paying for the £6.9million venue through increased council tax.

The council has now proposed paying for the venue with a £3million loan from the Public Works Loan Board – rather then a £5million loan which was originally proposed.

And the additional £2million will be raised through public fundraising and sponsorship, the council has said.

A spokesman for Burgess Hill Town Council told the Middy: “This removes the need for an increase in council precept – so no need for residents of the town to pay any extra tax to fund the community centre.

“In addition, the council has made cost savings as a normal part of its operating budget; the effect of these cuts has been amplified by new and increasing revenue generated from hiring town hall facilities to outside and partner organisations.”

The venue was put forward as part of Burgess Hill’s Cultural Quarter, to replace Martlets Hall, which is due to be demolished as part of the £65m town centre regeneration project, by developer NewRiver REIT.

Martlets Hall closes this Saturday (June 30).

A spokesman for the town council said: “The consultation earlier this year showed that residents are fully supportive of a new community centre and performing arts venue located in the middle of town.

“This result could have meant the cancelling of the project entirely but the council felt strongly that there must be such a facility to serve the current and future generations in the expanding Burgess Hill.

“Therefore, it literally went back to the drawing board with a renewed determination to provide a range of facilities for community groups, as well as a performance venue.”

A steering group of eight members of the community have been working on the project.

A spokesman said: “Whilst the council originated this project and has financial and planning responsibilities for its creation, construction and future administration, it has, from the start, involved residents of Burgess Hill in making the vision a reality – and sooner rather than later.

“These residents are able to bring a range of relevant experience and skills to support the work of elected councillors.

“This combined effort means community associations, groups and clubs will have a specially designed and permanent centre for community use.”

The venue proposed will offer facilities for a range of uses, such as rehearsal space, a stage, meeting rooms, dinner dances and presentations.