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COMMUNITY CENTRE & PERFORMING ARTS VENUE

LATEST UPDATE dated 07/09/2018

***Boost to New Community & Performance Venue vision***

Burgess Hill Town Council has received two boosts to its plans to provide a new, flexible community and performance venue for the town.

Firstly, Dame Vera Lynn has agreed to be a Patron for the project, and, secondly, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has approved a £3 million loan (via the Public Works Loan Board) towards the cost of demolishing the existing Royal British Legion building in Cyprus Road and the construction of this new facility on the site.

The total cost of the project is £5 million and a professional fundraiser has been appointed to raise the extra £2 million needed. Greenwoods has been appointed project manager and quantity surveyor, and Aedas has been appointed architect for the project.

The design will be flexible to allow for a wide variety of use of the building. It will have retractable raked seating for 250 people so the hall can be used for performances as well as dances, banquets, conferences and other events. The building will also have meeting and rehearsal rooms, exhibition space, a café and a bar.

A planning application will be submitted in early 2019 and, depending on progress in raising the remaining funds, it is hoped the building will be completed in 2020.

 

PREVIOUS UPDATES

A revised funding plan for a Community Centre and Performing Arts Venue was approved by full Council in July 2018 this year (2018).  

The consultation earlier this year showed that residents are fully supportive of a new community centre and performing arts venue located in the middle of town. However, residents did not want to fund it through an increase in the council precept and the new funding plan reflects this with the council looking to fund the project through existing resources.

This result could have meant the cancelling of the project entirely but the council felt strongly that there must be such a facility to serve the current and future generations in the expanding Burgess Hill. Therefore, it literally went back to the drawing board with a renewed determination to provide a range of facilities for community groups, as well as a performance venue.

The outcome is a new proposal which offers community groups facilities for a range of uses, such as rehearsal space, foyer cafe, meeting rooms, kitchen, storage, dressing room, backstage showers, WCs, retractable seating to create open floor space for different style events including keep fit, dinner dances, presentations, talks and discussions. This community space is in addition to a performance arts venue with a stage, 300 capacity seating and full front of house and backstage facilities.

 

Whilst ’The Council’ originated this project and has financial and planning responsibilities for its creation, construction and future administration, it has, from the start, involved residents of Burgess Hill in making the vision a reality - and sooner rather than later.

To do this, the council created a Steering Group with eight members of the community who are representatives of community groups needing facilities, as well as current users of existing community premises. These residents are able to bring a range of relevant experience and skills to support the work of elected councillors. This combined effort means community associations, groups and clubs will have a specially designed and permanent centre for community use.

Of course, all this is not without cost but the financial strategy to be considered by the council includes a lower cost than previously by incrementally staging the project; an initial £3 million being raised via a loan from the Public Works Loan Board and a requirement to raise an additional £2 million through public fund-raising and sponsorship. This removes the need for an increase in council precept - so no need for residents of the Town to pay any extra tax to fund the community centre.

In addition, the council has made cost savings as a normal part of its operating budget; the effect of these cuts has been amplified by new and increasing revenue generated from hiring town hall facilities to outside and partner organisations.