Decision due on new Burgess Hill community and performance venue

Plans for a new community and performance venue in Burgess Hill could be approved next week.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 11:57 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 12:03 pm

Burgess Hill Town Council is seeking permission for the new centre in Cyprus Road and the demolition of the vacant Royal British Legion club building.

The venue would comprise a 237-seat theatre, a multi-purpose dance and rehearsal studio, meeting rooms, dressing room and support spaces, foyer spaces and associated café/bar.

There would also be landscaped works to the north and south and alleyway to the east, while the building would make use of the adjoining district council car park to the rear.

Beehive Centre plans Burgess Hill
Beehive Centre plans Burgess Hill

The new venue would be named the Beehive Arts Centre, and Dame Vera Lynn has already lent her name to the proposed community theatre.

A planning application for the centre is due to be discussed by Mid Sussex District Council’s planning committee on Thursday January 16.

Officers are recommending approval.

The proposals follow the closure of the town’s Martlets Hall, as a regeneration scheme for that part of Burgess Hill is being progressed by New River.

Beehive Centre plans Burgess Hill

Both the RBL building, which has been empty for a number of years, and Cyprus Hall next door are both owned by the town council.

According to the application: “The high-quality entertainment offer created by the new building will play a key part in the regeneration of the town centre and will be one of Burgess Hill’s key assets as the town continues to grow.

“The aspiration for the building is that it should become a vibrant and engaging destination venue for Burgess Hill and the wider area, animating the Cyprus Road streetscape with daytime and evening activity.

“The intention is to create an accessible and welcoming community hub with a varied and appealing programme of events.”

Beehive Centre plans Burgess Hill

The development of the site promises to reinvigorate the public realm in the area ‘which is beginning to look tired’, with patched up pavements and an ‘uninviting’ alleyway alongside Cyprus Hall an area where anti-social behaviour problems have cropped up.

The aim is for the alley to be an attractive public route which not only benefits the new venue, but also rationalises Cyprus Hall’s ‘convoluted’ side entrance arrangement.

As for the venue itself, the auditorium would cater for a broad spectrum of performance types from community theatre and amateur dramatics to professional touring shows.

It would also host a range of music events, stand-up comedy, family entertainment, conferences, lectures, banquets, dances and award ceremonies.

Beehive Centre plans Burgess Hill

The building has been designed so the auditorium can be reconfigured easily, while the dance studio and meeting room at the top floor of the building complement the main space.

The dance studio would also provide space for educational workshops, talks, dramatic rehearsals, poetry readings and smaller performances.

Officers described the design of the building as ‘bold and striking’ and argued the increased scale could be justified due to the public benefits the venue would bring to Burgess Hill.

Beehive Centre plans Burgess Hill
Beehive Centre plans Burgess Hill
Beehive Centre plans Burgess Hill
Beehive Centre plans Burgess Hill
Beehive Centre plans Burgess Hill