WEST SUSSEX: Ansty Village Centre
Mid Sussex District Council plans to provide the final £100,000 needed to pay for a new village hall, sports and social club in Ansty.
Planning permission to demolish the current dilapidated hall, in Deaks Lane, and build the Ansty Village Centre on the neighbouring recreation ground, was given in January, 2017.
With the deadline to start the work rapidly approaching, the £1.4million project is still £100,000 short.
At a meeting of the cabinet, members agreed to recommend the money be taken from the council’s reserves. The final decision on whether to do so will be made at the next meeting of the full council in December.
Once work on the new centre is completed, the old hall will be demolished and the land used as an extension of the recreation ground car park. A 150-year lease will be taken out by the council from the Ansty Village Hall Trust for this purpose.
The council owns the recreation ground on which the new centre will stand, so the aim is to lease it to the Ansty Village Centre Trust for 150 years at a peppercorn rent of around £100 per year.
A third lease for 28 years was also recommended. This one was for the groundsman’s store on the recreation ground and would allow Ansty Cricket Club to keep a wicket there and use the outfield.
Cabinet members were told a decision was needed quickly because, as well as the planning deadline approaching, some of the funding raised by the Ansty Village Centre Trust was time-limited.
Questions were asked about what would happen if poor winter weather meant delays to the building work.
Officers assured them that, while the first stage of the three-stage project needed to be completed by September, the trust had to do little more than dig a trench by the January 13 planning deadline to show that it had made a good start.
They also said there was ‘no question’ of the council being asked for more money for the project, with the £100,000 described as ‘quite generous’.
Leader Jonathan Ash-Edwards said: “This project has been in gestation for a long while now. The aspirations of the Ansty Village Centre Trust are very positive and this would be a very good facility for the centre of the district.”
Norman Webster (Con, East Grinstead – Baldwins) congratulated the trust for fundraising ‘far more than I ever thought they would achieve in the time available’.
He added: “I want to acknowledge the number of people who use the facilities they have now, and the numbers who will benefit from the facilities in the future.
“From what I have seen of their business plan and the processes they have in place, this will be a very valuable community facility and I’m sure it will continue to be well run for the benefit of the wider community.”
A report to the cabinet said the hall and recreation ground attracted some 15,000 visitors every year.