Burgess Hill says YES to The Beehive Plan
Emphatic and overwhelming backing for Burgess Hill’s community venue plan
Residents have given Burgess Hill Town Council a significant boost by backing its proposals for a new community facility and performing arts venue in the town, known as The Beehive.
Over the course of March and April 2021, the Town Council embarked on a town wide consultation exercise which involved issuing several consultation leaflets and wide-ranging social media asking residents to support a proposal to borrow up to £4.8m from the Public Works Loan Board in order to deliver Phase 1 of this ambitious project.
Residents were asked two questions:
(1) Should Burgess Hill have a modern community venue for local dance, music groups and clubs, with facilities that attract professional performers and artists?
(2) 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% 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% of residents said YES to The Beehive proposal against 12.0% who said no.
Commenting on the results, Council Leader Robert 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% 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,” said Cllr Eggleston. “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.”
The Beehive is designed as an attractive modern building with an internal layout that can be quickly reconfigured for a range of uses. A core element is the theatre, a characterful and inviting space with seating set on an upward slope and two galleries, capable of hosting shows for up to 300 people.
The building will be completed in three phases but will be opened and ready for use when Phase 1 is completed.
Phase 1: This will be the main build on four floors featuring all the key aspects including the theatre auditorium with sprung floor, flexible meeting/dressing rooms and café/bar.
Phase 2: Is the completion and fit-out of the second floor which creates a dedicated rehearsal, dance and education suite. The suite will be fully equipped with sprung floor, changing facilities and waiting area.
Phase 3: This will see the integration of The Beehive with Cyprus Hall next door. Cyprus Hall would be completely refurbished and linking the two buildings would increase available facilities through the addition of more meeting areas and a museum display room.
Planning Permission for Phase 1 and 2 was granted in January 2020.
The cost of the first phase will be in the region of £5.3 million and Burgess Hill Town Council is proposing to take out a loan of up to £4.8million from the Public Works Loan Board to build The Beehive with annual loan repayments in the region of £150,000 per annum for the life of the loan (50 years). The Town Council will not need to increase its element of the council tax to repay the loan which will be funded from existing budgets without the need to cut services.
The core of the project will be funded by the loan with the balance from funds the Town Council has set aside and other already identified third party monies. The Council will continue to seek funds from other sources to either reduce the amount it borrows or use it towards the cost of Phase 2 and Phase 3. The project is dependent on securing a loan of up to £4.8 million and the Council needed Residents Approval to apply for this core funding. Residents were asked to vote on the funding proposal during the consultation which ran 18th March – Wednesday 21st April 2021 and the result was a resounding yes. Thank you to all who took part.
The open zoom consultation sessions have now finished but please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the project.
For more information please visit www.beehiveartscentre.com.
Find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/burgesshillbeehive
Click on the following links to download:
– a copy of The Beehive Leaflet which was delivered via Royal Mail Door to Door in the week commencing 22 February,
– an FAQ Sheet.
– a copy of The Beehive Consultation leaflet delivered via Royal Mail Door to Door in the week commencing 15 March,
– and the relevant Beehive pages from the April 2021 issue of About Town.