LETTER: Leisure space is under threat

Your letters
Your letters

On 9th May HDC released the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant Masterplan for consultation. Once adopted, this document will ‘set the scene’ for this area and subsequent planning applications will be judged against it.

As the existing BBH Leisure Centre (and also its planned replacement) is sited in the Quadrant, this ‘supplementary planning document’ is of particular interest to the BBH Leisure Centre Joint User Group (BJUG). A summary of the many issues we have with it can be found on our website (www.bbhleisurecentrejug.org.uk) where there are also links to enable you to easily have your say too.

The Masterplan is very focussed on enabling more housing and retail on the site (especially on HDC owned land, no prizes for guessing why!), whilst paying relative ‘lip service’ to the re-provision of leisure facilities as part of the redevelopment.

Unsurprisingly, the previous undertaking of ‘an expansion of the Leisure Centre being necessary as a result of the development in this location’ given in a West of Horsham Masterplan, has long since been reneged.

In this latest Masterplan, there is no specific mention of the fact that under the National Policy Planning Framework, ‘existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land, including playing fields, should not be built on unless the loss resulting from the proposed development would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable location’.

Surely this is an absolutely critical planning consideration?

So, if you share our concern about the potential degrading of these sports and leisure facilities, or you are just anxious about yet more housing or even ‘out of town’ retail threatening the viability of the town centre, do get involved and comment upon this document. NB - deadline is Friday 13th June.

Incidentally if you do look at HDC’s ‘Concept Masterplan Map’ then don’t be fooled by the ‘error’ which misleadingly shows the leisure centre/indoor bowls sites being designated solely for leisure purposes.

The actual report declares HDC’s intent that retail units (circa 75,000 sq ft) will dominate that particular aspect (even though there is no separate service road) meaning that the space for a good sized replacement district leisure/bowls centre with adequate parking is under threat.

We have asked HDC to correct this map and restart the consultation period with accurate information, but unsuccessfully so far.

Why won’t they?

PAUL KORNYCKY

Deputy chairman, Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre Joint Users Group (BJUG), Cox Green, Rudgwick