Council decision on Martlets Hall was the right one

DM1864448a.jpg. Closure of Martlets Hall in Burgess Hill. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-180618-175008008
DM1864448a.jpg. Closure of Martlets Hall in Burgess Hill. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-180618-175008008

Pru Moore

Leader Burgess Hill Town Council, Church Walk, Burgess Hill

As Leader of Burgess Hill Town Council and a district councillor I feel the need to respond to some of the adverse comments made in last week’s edition regarding the Martlets Hall.

Ten years ago the residents made it clear that the priority for the town was a new town centre.

The initial attempt with Thornfields, unsurprisingly, fell through. This was followed by the financial crash leaving both Government and local authorities financially challenged.

Then the High Street crashed, the Martlets shopping centre operators put the centre up for sale and the only people willing to take it on were New River Retail.

The retail sector continued to suffer and redevelopment of the site became more challenging.

After a long period of negotiation the final deal was this - £65 million of investment, remediation of the gas holder site, a hotel, cinema, new library and shops but no re-provision of the Martlets Hall.

The choice facing councillors was stark, we could keep the Martlets Hall the crumbling car park, an old library, a gas holder that blighted our residents lives or accept that the Martlets Hall would go.

The hall was an underused outdated venue that cost the taxpayer £100k per year to subsidise.

Councillors made the hard decision but the right one.

BHTC then purchased the old Royal British Legion building to assist delivery on its neighbourhood plan, which residents had approved.

This included the cultural quarter in Cyprus Road. The purchase provided an opportunity to develop this area and provide a modern, multi purpose community and arts venue that Burgess Hill can be proud of.

These decisions made by your local councillors will provide a modern town centre, a new arts facility and investment in jobs for our young people.

To talk of the Burgess Hill residents becoming philistines because of the loss of one venue is quite frankly insulting to this town.

Having just watched an amazing production of Wind in the Willows at Burgess Hill academy, a live out door performance of Shakespeare and listened to our wonderful orchestra playing in various venues. Culture is very much alive and kicking.

Too much emphasis is being placed on one worn out venue which is over shadowing the once in a life time opportunity to bring a new lease of life to our town for generations to come.

Pru Moore

Leader Burgess Hill Town Council, Church Walk, Burgess Hill