‘We will fight for purpose-built library Burgess Hill was promised’
The site of a new permanent library for Burgess Hill as part of a major regeneration scheme has not been made, the company behind the plans has confirmed.
NewRiver was granted planning permission in 2016 for the £65m project – set to bring a ten-screen Cineworld, 63-bed Travelodge, new retailers, restaurant and leisure provisions and homes to the town.
A purpose-built library is included in the plans, with a temporary facility set to operate during construction work after the current one closes.
Anne Jones (Con, Burgess Hill East) announced the site of the temporary library would now be its permanent home due to Hollywood Bowl getting on board with the scheme.
She said: “It will be a good site for the library.”
Her comments were made at West Sussex County Council’s Central and South Mid Sussex County Local Committee on Tuesday night (March 12).
New River confirmed conversations are taking place with the county council regarding a ‘suitable permanent home for the library’.
Discussions are ongoing and nothing has been finalised.
A spokesman added: “We expect to be in a position to share further details about this and the wider regeneration in due course.
“We remain fully committed to this important and exciting redevelopment of the town centre, to deliver a vision that incorporates a mix of leisure attractions, community uses and facilities, alongside retail and restaurants that are relevant for years to come. Our advanced discussions are ongoing with Hollywood Bowl as we work to secure the addition of a popular bowling alley to the town, and Lidl are making good progress at their site in Leylands Road.
“We will be sharing further information with the local community in due course, and would like to thank all residents for their patience as we continue our work to deliver the best for Burgess Hill.”
Lib Dem county councillor Kirsty Lord, who represents Hassocks and Burgess Hill South, has taken to Facebook to share her displeasure at the news.
She said: “A bowling alley in Burgess Hill would be great, but I’m appalled that local Conservatives think it is acceptable to deliver this at the expense of a purpose-built library.
“Hollywood Bowl is a commercial operator who could pull out at any time. The library is a public asset that has been and will be serving residents day in day out for years.
“The temporary site is not as good as the permanent one originally offered hence the ongoing negotiations.”
She added: “I have given my full support to officers as they work on our behalf negotiating with New River Retail. The Burgess Hill Liberal Democrats and I will not be letting this drop and will be fighting to ensure we receive the library we were promised.”
Speaking to the Middy she asked if the Changing Places facility for people with disabilities would still be included if the library site was moved and suggested, as with the controversy over Martlets Hall, the town was being ‘shortchanged again’.
Robert Eggleston, Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate for Mid Sussex, added: “This isn’t about opposing the Hollwood Bowl, which we would welcome, but it is about making sure that a revitalised town centre has a proper mix between the commercial and public facilities.”