Volunteers ‘let down’ after efforts at centre

S13170H14 The entrance to Southwick Community Centre is hidden behind a large treea
S13170H14 The entrance to Southwick Community Centre is hidden behind a large treea

VOLUNTEERS feel angry and let down after their bid to improve Southwick Community Centre was thrown out.

Trustees say the entrance, which is tucked down the side, off Southwick Street, Southwick, needs to be made more obvious and hoped to get permission for a new canopy, as part of wider improvement plans.

But having deferred the decision at last month’s meeting, Adur Council’s planning committee decided on Monday to refuse permission altogether.

Speaking after the meeting, Southwick Community Association chairman Bob Ryder said: “We feel very let down after 70 years of positive working between us and the council.

“The main message is that the centre is run by volunteers and they are very disappointed by the way this has been handled. They are going to be very angry about the decision.”

He said the association was given the impression there were no objections to the plan, so they were not given a slot to speak at the meeting on March 31.

“Then we read the front of the Herald and saw a lot of councillors were critical,” said Mr Ryder. “It was the first we had heard of it.”

It turned out there was still an objection from the Adur District Conservation Advisory Group, which felt the canopy was inappropriate and unnecessary.

Mr Ryder said they had already complained to the council because they felt they had not been given a proper chance to explain their scheme.

The plan was for a curved canopy over the front entrance, deliberately designed to look contemporary against the historic architectural form of the other buildings, to make it noticeable.

Association secretary David Comber said: “The reason why we went for a simple canopy is because there are so many different levels, you can’t have a traditional type.

“We had to keep it simple and make it obvious, and keep it within cost. It is not there to protect the public, it is a feature.”

They said it raised questions about the whole scheme, because there was little point carrying out improvements to the foyer area if the entrance could not be changed.

Mr Ryder said: “We either appeal it or scrap it altogether.”