Broadbridge Heath running track relocation: Two options revealed for future home of outdoor athletics

Christ's Hospital is one of two potential locations where Broadbridge Heath's runnning track could be relocated
Christ's Hospital is one of two potential locations where Broadbridge Heath's runnning track could be relocated

A running track at Broadbridge Heath could be relocated to either Tanbridge House School or Christ’s Hospital.

A new £12.3m leisure centre building was unveiled by Horsham District Council last month replacing the old facilities next door.

The existing track at Broadbridge Heath

The existing track at Broadbridge Heath

This follows years of campaigning by leisure centre users to secure the best possible facilities for the district.

HDC is now exploring options to relocate the running track with a cost-analysis exercise being carried out for both Tanbridge House School and Bluecoat Sports Centre in Christ’s Hospital.

Tanbridge has been mooted as a potential location for a track as far back as 2012, while Christ’s Hospital announced plans for new sports and leisure facilities on the estate in July this year.

Jonathan Chowen, HDC’s cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “It is extremely important as a council that we deliver on our promises to our community and deliver a replacement running track and facilities for the ongoing benefit of current and future users of the district.

Jonathan Chowen, pictured at the new Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre, said it was important as a council it delivers on a promise to deliver a replacement running track. Photo by Derek Martin

Jonathan Chowen, pictured at the new Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre, said it was important as a council it delivers on a promise to deliver a replacement running track. Photo by Derek Martin

“Our overarching loyalty to our core goal remains steadfast; to increase participation in sport and physical activity to improve the health and wellbeing of our growing population.”

The council said retaining community access to a relocated track was vital, while it was confident it would meet its deadline for delivery of the new replacement facility by 2021.

Any future potential development on the site of the existing track at the former leisure centre would have to comply with policies set out in its adopted local plan.

Horsham Blue Star Harriers is based at the existing running track in Broadbridge Heath.

Keith May, the club’s chairman, said they would prefer to stay but the council had made it clear this was not an option.

He described how they were grateful to the council for providing a track and its support over the years, but they did not known what effect moving to Christ’s Hospital would have on the club.

Many of its younger members would be reluctant to travel out of the town especially during the winter months, public transport is poor and some members currently cycle to Broadbridge Heath.

The club has increased its membership since being at Broadbridge Heath from under 100 to more than 250, with 75 per cent of that membership under 18 with the junior section ‘currently one of the strongest in Sussex’.

Mr May added: “Tanbridge School would be a preferable location for us as it is in the town and we would expect our membership to continue to grow.

“The other issue re the two locations is that our endurance athletes use the roads in Horsham for some of their training and because there are no suitable lit roads at Christ’s Hospital it would mean that club athletes and coaches would be split between the track athletes and the endurance athletes, not an ideal situation when trying to manage a club run solely by volunteers.”

Jules White, headteacher of Tanbridge House School, said they were pleased to be given the opportunity to consider offering their site as a place for a running track.

He added: “If and only if HDC and the wider community believes a replacement is the best way forward Tanbridge House is ideally suited to undergo a joint venture.

“We have a strong community footprint and would place a new track at the heart of our local community.

“We fully acknowledge that HDC must seek the best choice available but a major part of that consideration should be the way local council resources are allocated.

“In my view our community state school offers a superb option for Horsham and its wider locality.”