New community venue plan receives ‘emphatic’ support from Burgess Hill
Plans for a new community facility and performance arts venue for Burgess Hill have received ‘emphatic and overwhelming’ support.
Over the course of March and April, Burgess Hill Town Council embarked on a town-wide consultation exercise on its Beehive project, which included leaflets and wide-ranging social media engagement.
Residents were asked to support a proposal to borrow up to £4.8m from the Public Works Loan Board to deliver phase one of the project, proposed on the site of the old Royal British Legion building in Cyprus Road.
Robert Eggleston, leader of the town council, announced the results of the questions posed during the consultation today (Friday May 7).
Residents were asked two questions:
Should Burgess Hill have a modern community venue for local dance, music groups and clubs, with facilities that attract professional performers and artists?
Would residents back the Town Council’s proposal for the Beehive. This included borrowing up to £4.8m to build The Beehive?
On the first question 2,616 residents agreed that Burgess Hill should have a modern community venue against 163 who disagreed with the need for it. That meant that 94 per cent of residents who responded said YES to question 1.
On the second question 2,470 residents said YES to Burgess Hill Town Council’s proposal to borrow up to £4.8m from the PWLB against 340 who voted no. That meant that 88.0 per cent of residents said YES to The Beehive proposal against 12.0 per cent who said no.
Mr Eggleston said: “This result has exceeded our expectations and we are extraordinarily grateful to residents for giving The Beehive plan their emphatic and overwhelming endorsement.
“With the backing of 88 per cent of residents, the Town Council can now move, at pace, to the next stage of this process and submit its loan application to PWLB. Providing the loan is approved we can start to deliver The Beehive project this year with an anticipated opening date in late 2023.”
Since the Martlets Hall was closed in 2018, Burgess Hill has not had a public venue for the performing arts and has a shortage of community space in the town centre. When fully completed The Beehive will contain an auditorium capable of holding audiences of up to 300 with raked seating and two theatre style galleries, a dedicated dance and rehearsal studio and meeting rooms.
The Beehive will include a Changing Places Toilet facility and other features to aid accessibility. It will be built along sustainable lines including solar panels on the roof and air or ground source heat pumps.
“Providing the loan application is approved, we will be in a position to build back community right in the heart of the town in what will be the most significant public building project undertaken in Burgess Hill, Mr Eggleston added. “The Beehive will meet the needs of existing and future generations and we must now hope that we are given the financial tools to go on and deliver this bold and visionary project.”