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Sport England Warn Over The Delivery Of Burgess Hill's Centre For Community Sport

16th April 2019 | By Peter Chapman

Sport England have given a stark warning that all the promised and required sporting facilities for Burgess Hill may not be delivered. The body has refused to back the proposals at this time until full details are known.

Homes England are seeking outline permission for the full 3,500-home Northern Arc Development with a 'reserved matters' application for the Centre for Community Sport coming at a later date. Mid Sussex District Council will be the ones to decide which sports will be catered for at the new centre - but will they provide what the community want and need?

Burgess Hill Rugby Club are one of the town's sports teams with an interest in the proposed new facility.

'The On-Site Sports Facility Provision' section from the Homes England 'Allocation-wide Financial Appraisal' document vaguely states:
Financial contribution to be paid to MSDC for the delivery and management of the Centre for Community Sports (up to 9.8ha in size) with the capacity to deliver a range of junior football pitches, mini football pitches, rugby pitches, ancillary facilities and a built facility up to 400m2 GEA - That doesn't sound very exciting to BHU!

Where's our promised athletics track?

As part of the Burgess Hill Town-Wide Strategy - the one that promised us loads of new faciltiies and bundles of cash if we didn't kick up a fuss about the huge population growth - one of the things on the shopping list was a proper floodlit athletics track. There was support for it from local running clubs and residents. Why is there no mention of it? Could it be because of this....

In part 4 of the Northern Arc Design & Access Statement. It is written:
The outline for a CFCS scheme was developed by Burgess Hill Town Council in 2011 as part of its Town Wide Strategy for 20 Years. A number of amendments to this original proposal have taken place since 2011 but this concept has remained an important aspect of the Northern Arc for the District and Town Council.

Ah right, 'amendments'. That'll explain the lack of running track then. This is not good.

This is the exact picture used in the Burgess Hill Town-Wide Strategy

What Sport England Think
As a consultee, Sport England wrote to the Mid Sussex District Council planning department with their recommendations on how to make Burgess Hill compliant against national guidlines with the expected growth in population over the next 15 years.

Among the requirements listed by Sport England are:

  • Additional rugby pitches, including a floodlit Rugby pitch
  • A new, larger clubhouse with additional changing facilities for Burgess Hill Rugby Club.
  • A new Indoor Football Facility
  • Improvements to existing grass football pitches.
  • 11v11 Floodlit 3G Football Turf Pitch
  • An additional hockey compliant sand based AGP
  • A Pavillion extension for Burgess Hill Cricket Club
  • Installation of a non turf cricket pitch which would allow for casual cricket

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) Share Their Concerns:
The RFU has concerns that the area identified for sporting provision within the development is to be considered under reserved matters, in that it does not identify which sports are to be provided for and to what specification or scope this provision will be.

Laura Hutson - Plannng Manager for Sport England closed the letter to Mid Sussex District Council with the following:
Sport England is unable to support this application until such time as the applicant makes further representations regarding the points made above. Sport England objects to these matters being left to reserved matters as its experience is that such issues should be dealt with at an early stage in order to ensure that the community is provided with the facilities it requires. Clarification is required as to the exact nature of the sporting provision being proposed on site as well as the proposed S106 contributions with regard to sport.

Burgess Hill will need some very good representation from councillors over the next few years to ensure the reserved matters application for the Centre For Community Sport is exactly what the community need.

Spread the word! There could be a major difference in what we are expecting and what will be delivered at the Centre For Community Sport

Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
What are your thoughts on the situation? Do you think we'll get a fancy centre for community sport or will we just get a bunch of generic football and rugby pitches?

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