New community hub for Haywards Heath: Chris Cook from Sussex Clubs for Young People has plans for ‘the heart of Bentswood’

Sussex Clubs for Young People have some big plans for the Barn Cottage Pavilion in Haywards Heath after getting £171,160 from Mid Sussex District Council.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 7:09 pm

The application for the grant was approved on Monday (June 28) at a cabinet grants panel, where the council released almost £280,000 of Section 106 contributions to community groups.

Mid Sussex District Scouts, who are developing a new community hall (or Scout community centre) next to the pavilion, were granted £100,000.

“It’s a really exciting project,” said Chris Cook, CEO of Sussex Clubs for Young People, adding that the combined pavilion and hall plans will create a great hub for the community – ‘the heart of Bentswood’.

The new development of Barn Cottage Pavilion will become 'the heart of Bentswood'.
The new development of Barn Cottage Pavilion will become 'the heart of Bentswood'.

“I think that once it’s finished it will be a fabulous resource for young people and the community as a whole for years to come,” he said.

“The plan is to have both buildings going up at the same time,” he added, saying that his team is working with the scouts to get everything done.

Chris went on to say that the pavilion will be extended to one side and will have a large kitchen and a larger hall, as well as a nursery and an entrance with disabled access.

There will be more space within the building, he said, and a ‘dedicated changing facility’ for sports groups using the playing field.

Chris would also like to see a climbing wall on the side of the scout building, but said all of these ideas must be worked out carefully and be granted planning permission.

“We’re supporting the scouts with everything we can,” he said, adding that they are talking to them about planning the hall and possibly raising more funds.

“There’s a whole piece of work going on about how to make two buildings work together,” added Chris, saying that the project will take a long time to complete.

“The very earliest we’ll start might be April next year.”

Chris said the plan is ‘rooted’ in The Bentswood Community Hub where they first started to talk about renovating the pavilion.

The Bentswood Community Hub is a collaboration between residents, Clarion Futures, Bentswood Community Partnership and Sussex Clubs for Young People, and is based in a former shop in America Lane.

It currently offers a community café, emotional support for families from the Hope charity, employment support and training from a Clarion Futures jobs and training officer, and Digital Champions IT sessions from Mid Sussex Voluntary Action. The Department of Work and Pensions also offers advice and drop-in sessions.

Recently, The Bentswood Community Larder received a letter of thanks from Mrs Susan Pyper, HM Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, for providing food to residents in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chris expects some of the activities at Bentswood Hub to transfer to the new site when it opens but he is not sure exactly how the three properties will work together yet.

“It’s all on the table but we’re trying to work out the plans for how to move it forward effectively and to bring the community with us,” he said.

Find out more about Sussex Clubs for Young People at sussexcyp.org.uk.