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Plans Submitted To Upgrade Cricket Club Pavilion In St John's Park, Burgess Hill

9th April 2020 | By Peter Chapman

The pavillion in St John's Park could see a canopy installed as part of a range of improvements to benefit users of the facility which include Burgess Hill Cricket Club and The Crickets Playgroup.

burgess hill circket club

Mid Sussex District Council have submitted a planning application to themselves - as they own the building in St John's Park - and barring any objections from the public, the approval of the plans will be a formality.

Officially, the works have been listed as: Extension to the store room, to demolish the existing entrance door way and insert a new aluminium bi-fold double glazed door system and to provide a Hypar shade canopy, cosisting of painted steel columns and a uPVC shade material.

The existing changing rooms are also being altered and refurbished, but do not form part of the planning application.

So why is this happening? We spoke to Matt Charman from Burgess Hill Cricket Club to find out more....

How did this planning application come about, was this instigated by MSDC or the Cricket Club?

This process was instigated by BHCC. We have been in discussions with MSDC since 2016 cajoling them to improve the pavilion. The club had architectural drawings completed, at our expense, for the pavilion redevelopment. The Council’s plans for the changing rooms are identical to the plans that the club submitted to the Council several years ago.

Are you content with what's being proposed or were the club hoping for something a bit more extensive?

We are delighted that the changing room area is being redeveloped and that we will have more storage for ground equipment, but we feel this is a massive opportunity missed to develop a much enhanced community centre that could be used to generate income for the council and meet all our needs for the next generation to come.

The club needs a larger social area and the space in front of the building is being wasted as there is no improvement being made to what is a badly designed existing space. We prepared plans for this to be developed as well, but the Council claimed that the funds were not available for this. If their plans had been in line with our suggestions, the facility could be hired out generating income for the Council and enabling the club to generate more income from the bar.

Burgess Hill is a massively growing town and this could be a central convenient community centre, it’s a chance gone begging in our view to do it once and do it properly.  We would love there to be a change in approach and get this done for the good of the club, the nursery and the town. 

What benefits will the hypar shade canopy bring?

We were unaware that this structure was included until we saw the planning application and don’t know its exact size. We are unsure what benefits it will bring to the club. As we said above, if some type of orangery cover across the entire front had been proposed that would have been ideal. We had Keymer Double Glazing draw up a design. This was submitted to the Council but not proceeded with. Instead we appear to have this hypar structure which doesn’t seem to be of any use to anyone.

Again, there is an opportunity being missed to get something all-encompassing put in place this year, the building work could be done alongside the proposed plans at less cost that doing something again in the future.

We see that the changing area is being reconfigured, can you explain a bit about why this is?

The existing changing facilities are too small and there are no changing facilities for umpires or women. It is essential in our expanded and continually growing club we have facilities fit for purpose and the existing ones definitely are not.

The configuration of the new facilities, as drawn up in our original plans, is in line with the England and Wales Cricket Board recommendations. They have changing, shower and toilet facilities for umpires which could double up for girls to use when we have mixed junior teams.

There are still no separate facilities for girls and women however which is a grave omission in this day and age particularly given the thriving girls and women’s section at the club. We want to provide the best facilities for the whole of the club so everyone can benefit including opposition teams, but it’s hard to get this done it would seem.

Will the Crickets Playgroup also benefit from the changes? If so, how?

We understand that they will have a little more storage for their equipment. However again the space within the building is so poorly designed and inadequate they would have been a big beneficiary of being able to extend the front of the building. We are sure they would have welcome the extra space we are proposing the council add.

You've had a lot of issues with drainage, are they going to be addressed as part of the work?

The drainage issues are in part to be undertaken separately. There are plans to redirect the drains between the pavilion and the tennis courts. In addition, the Council plan to reconfigure the ground some 10 yards outside of the pavilion so that it will be recontoured directing the surface water away from the pavilion into the centre of the Park. This work was due to commence in March but it was too wet. Subsequently it has been put on hold due to the current coronavirus problems. The Council are not absolutely sure that this will work at this time.

If the plans are approved, have you been given any indication from MSDC when the works may begin?

The work was due to commence March – May. It would have overlapped the new cricket season a little but the club decided that it would put up with the loss of the facilities for a short while if this meant that the work would be completed. We imagine with everything on hold it will be undertaken in the Autumn although we have not been told. We understand that the work is still out to tender and is still to be formally ratified by the Council.

We hope that there is time to re-consider an upgrade of the pavilion social area as this would clearly make a huge difference to those currently using the pavilion and open it up to increased use for the community too.

Is the anything else you'd like to add about the refurbishment plans that will be of interest to the public?

Whilst we are very grateful for the additional storage and modern changing facilities we re-iterate that the Council is missing out on an opportunity to make this a landmark building for Burgess Hill, the local community and the cricket club. With full support this could have been a massive boost for the current sporting generation and the one’s to come in our town.

We represent our town at the highest level it has ever been (County League 2) and this is despite the facilities we currently have. We have spent many years and a lot of money from those in the club to improve our facilities for the good of the town.  

Our sponsors are brilliant and keep us moving forward and without them we could not be as progressive and inclusive as we are. We thank them wholeheartedly, but we need more help from those running the councils.

The public will see that as well as youth matches we have over 150 boys and girls playing sport in the centre of town on a Friday night and we are open to all, we are completely inclusive and want to get better.   No one will be turned away from Burgess Hill Cricket Club and that is not the same for all sports clubs. 

Very few cricket clubs play in the centre of their town, we love being a focal point, we just need the right support to keep doing what we are doing. Our club still requires more social space if it is to thrive and compete at the very highest levels. With little or no income this season, this requirement is greater than ever and we’d love to see the council help us achieve our aims.

For more information, look up application number DM/20/0937 on the MSDC Planning Portal

Spread the word! Some changes are afoot for the pavillion in St John's Park

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