New Ansty Village Centre officially opens: MP cuts ribbon for Mid Sussex community hub

A new community hub for Mid Sussex was officially opened this month by a group of overjoyed volunteers and councillors.

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 10:53 am

Mid Sussex MP Mims Davies cut the ribbon for the £1.25 million Ansty Village Centre on Sunday (October 17).

The building, located on Deaks Lane off the A272, provides a community hall and sports pavilion for Ansty residents, as well as people in the surrounding area.

It has been unofficially open since May, hosting exercise classes, choirs, and birthday and retirement parties.

From left: Jon Gilley, Mims Davies MP, Councillor Pete Bradbury, Marion Petitpierre, Maureen Gibson and Brian Fletcher;

Ansty Village Centre also has a state-of-the-art main hall with a maxi screen and projector, as well as a kitchen with new equipment.

“This brilliant centre is already busy and has huge potential,” said Mims Davies, adding that it is home to thriving activities like disabled cricket and women’s cricket.

“It is an incredible example of a what a whole community can do when it works together, with the support of the district and parish councils,” she said.

People at the opening included: chair of the Ansty Village Centre Trust Jon Gilley, West Sussex County Council chairman Pete Bradbury, Marion Petitpierre and Maureen Gibson of the Ansty Village Hall Trust, Brian Fletcher of Ansty Sports and Social Club, Burgess Hill councillor Samantha Smith (Dunstall Ward), councillor Norman Webster (MSDC Cabinet member for Community), former Mid Sussex District Council leader Gary Wall, and Mid Sussex District Council’s John Belsey, Cabinet Member for Environment and Service Delivery.

The new Ansty Village Centre.

Roughly half of the funds for the centre came from Section 106 money, with two £100,000 grants from Mid Sussex District Council and Ansty and Staplefield Parish Council.

The sources of the Section 106 funding included developer contributions related to community building and sports allocations from developments at Bolney Road South, Sandrocks, South of Rocky Lane and Rookery Farm.

WSCC chairman Pete Bradbury said he became involved in the project about 20 years ago as a member of Ansty and Staplefield Parish Council and helped lobby the District Council for section 106 money.

He had a hand in raising roughly £700,000 and said the new village centre was ‘fantastic’.

The old Ansty hall.

“I’m really impressed with the way the various parties involved in it – the sporting bodies, the club, the village hall – have all come together to make sure everyone gets the best use out of it,” said Mr Bradbury.

Marion Pettitpierre, of Ansty Village Hall Trust, said she is relieved the building has finally opened.

Marion said she had been raising funds with Maureen Gibson since 1998 and that they originally wanted to simply build a new hall to replace the old one.

However, she said they joined forces with Ansty’s social club and sports club in 2008 after being approached by the District Council and Ansty Parish Council (Ansty) to create a larger building.

“Mid Sussex District Council have been very generous with their Section 106 money,” said Marion.

“We had personally raised enough to build a new hall and we put all that money that we had raised for that to this project,” she added.

“The centre as a whole is a fantastic new building, which we are all very happy with, and we think it’s going to address everything that we need in the village and in the wider community for sport and socialising,” said Marion.

The Ansty Village Centre Trust (AVCT) is a partnership between the Parish Council, the village hall, the sports and social club, and the cricket club.

AVCT chair Jon Gilley said: “The partnership between the Trust and the Parish and District Councils was fundamental to the project’s success and gave us real credibility in the eyes of other funders.”

Fellow trustee, John Thorpe, who managed the project, said: “Sports Clubhouses Limited, who developed the design and managed the construction, deserve huge credit for coming up with a concept which won the full support of stakeholders and for then getting it built against the background of COVID delays and the supply issues in the construction industry.”

The original hall was a former Canadian Troop Hut and was built on the Deaks Lane site 100 years ago.

The campaign for a new hall dates back to 1987 when a group of villagers began raising funds.

They became more organised around the year 2000, holding coffee mornings, summer lunches and race nights.

Ansty Cricket Club ran their own fundraising campaign with events like curry lunches in London, barbecues and club sponsor nights.

Other fundraisers have included the Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust, the English Cricket Board, Sport England and the Leader fund.

Read our previous story about Ansty Village Centre’s funding here.

Find out more at anstysussex.uk.