Community groups set to agree next steps for community facilities and town regeneration in Haywards Heath

PR2301/MJ/RA - 14/10/2020

Engagement with community groups in Haywards Heath and the surrounding area is set to start over the autumn and winter to help inform the next steps for community facilities and the town’s wider regeneration.

The news was confirmed today by Councillor John Belsey, Mid Sussex District Council’s (MSDC) Cabinet Member for Environment and Service Delivery.

Structured engagement, conducted by an organisation independent of MSDC, will help the Council gain a richer understanding of the current and future community needs which will be added to the data the Council already holds. The outcome of this engagement work will inform projects including the provision of modern community facilities, the future of the Clair Hall site and the wider Haywards Heath Masterplan. The independent structured engagement will work with past users of Clair Hall and the wider community.

Clair Hall closed in March of this year due to Coronavirus legislation passed by the Government to stop the spread of the virus. Prior to the closure there were already challenges in maintaining the building which was in danger of becoming unfit for purpose, demonstrated by its falling usage year-on-year and the building standing empty about half the time it was available to hire.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought this issue to a head and Clair Hall is unable to reopen because it cannot operate viably with Covid secure measures in place, given the constraints of the old building.

Councillor John Belsey said, “Sadly COVID-19 has created considerable difficulties for community facilities with many activities not allowed to go ahead due to social distancing and Government restrictions. Unfortunately, this causes problems for a building such as Clair Hall, which is over 50 years old, with substantial maintenance costs and which has already been experiencing falling usage.”

“We want to work on the business case and options for the provision of modern community facilities that could better meet the needs of residents and visitors to Haywards Heath. This independently facilitated engagement is an important next step to build the evidence base of the current and future needs of the community.”