This is what Hassocks’ open air theatre could look like

Proposed outdoor performance space at Downlands Community School in Hassocks
Proposed outdoor performance space at Downlands Community School in Hassocks

A new open-air theatre could be created at Hassocks’ Downlands Community School to be used by both pupils and the wider community.

The site is currently used by students at lunch and break time as a social space. This would continue in the new Hassocks Outdoor Performance Space, according to the application submitted to West Sussex County Council.

Proposed outdoor performance space at Downlands Community School in Hassocks

Proposed outdoor performance space at Downlands Community School in Hassocks

The design

The theatre has been designed with treated timber sleeper seating tiers, covered in artificial turf to given an all-weather surface, and a gravel footwell.

Three acoustic screens also serve as a stage backdrop, each measuring 2.5metres in height.

The project, inspired by the Brighton Open Air Theatre, has four tiers of seating and would have capacity for 163 people.

Proposed outdoor performance space at Downlands Community School in Hassocks

Proposed outdoor performance space at Downlands Community School in Hassocks

As well as providing a performance space for the school the theatre would also be made available for Hassocks community groups.

How the school will benefit

The planning application describes how the school is ‘determined to expand the students’ experience of the arts’.

Since its school assembly hall is a traditional build, it offers little opportunity for creative engagement of students with the arts.

Proposed outdoor performance space at Downlands Community School in Hassocks

Proposed outdoor performance space at Downlands Community School in Hassocks

An open-air theatre would be used during the school day for music, drama and dance lessons and afterwards by school clubs and activities, as well as community-based music, arts and drama clubs.

It would also act as a social space for the school’s increasing number of pupils.

Literary festival to benefit

Each year Downlands Community School produces a week long literary festival for students, parents and the community.

However this currently takes place in classrooms and does not have a true ‘festival feel’.

The new performance space would ‘create a transformational space where performances and wider activities could take place, enhancing the festival experience for students and the wider community’.

The plans added: “We have an excellent site management team who would be responsible for the maintenance of the theatre. Students at our school take responsibility for litter picking with a daily team assigned to assist site management staff. The school also has a gardening club who are currently constructing/planting a wellbeing garden; they have volunteered to be responsible for planting around the theatre.”

To view the plans visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/planning using code WSCC/045/18/HA.

What do you think of the plans? Email the newsdesk.

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