The Ex-Serviceman’s Club in Hurstpierpoint has been reinvented
By David Tingley
The Ex-Serviceman’s Club has been closed for nearly two years, but there has been lots of positive work going on in the background, thanks to Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC).
The club had experienced some challenges latterly which resulted in MSDC repossessing the building off Willow Way back in December 2017.
Unfortunately, during that month a fire was started in a wheelie bin outside the centre, which took hold and spread into the eaves and roof of the building causing tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the empty site. This gave the Council both a problem but also an opportunity.
There had already been a series of conversations with local interested parties to try to ensure that the club building was able to be used for the good of the community. District Councillor and Hurst resident Colin Trumble chaired and hosted a meeting back in November 2017 at Haywards Heath Town Hall. The result of that was the creation of a Steering Group whose members comprised of representatives from the Parish Council, MSDC, the Club, local churches and other community groups.
Following the repossession, fire damage and assessment, MSDC agreed a plan to spend money on renovating the site with Hurstpierpoint & Sayers Common Parish Council committing to take the lease for the building and grounds.
Paul Williams, Project Surveyor for MSDC, explained: “The fire damage was extensive and smoke had affected almost every aspect of the inside of the building.” Paul worked alongside the Steering Group to create a completely new plan for the space which would seek to be both flexible and practical. “Fortunately we were able to reuse some equipment and furniture from recently decommissioned Martlets Hall in Burgess Hill – which included the bar and kitchen equipment.”
The new building – named Court Bushes Community Hub – now comprises of three independent spaces.
A small room with a bar and kitchen is at the back of the building. This area has one wall which is entirely bifold doors and will open out onto a decked garden area.
On the opposite side of the site is a completely self-sufficient nursery premises, fitted with its own set of toilets, a manager’s office and separate entrance from the car park. This large, bright room includes access to a generous enclosed outside space too. The Parish Council have already agreed to rent this space to a local nursery school (Kiddie Capers) from September.
Then the main space is a large and bright room, now completely open, which includes storage facilities, a dancefloor area and a hatch through to a well-planned kitchen. This area also has its own bi-fold doors, opening out to the grassy field outside.
Each of these spaces can be let independently, and all enquiries should be direct to the Parish Council office on 01273 833264 or see the recently launched website: www.hurstpierpointvillagehalls.org
Colin Trumble explained: “I am delighted that this building has been given a new lease of life. Although it doesn’t always happen, this really is a triumph of ‘design by committee’ – as so many from the community have been part of what has now been built.”
“The original Ex-Serviceman’s Club was opened over 100 years ago in Hurst,” commented MSDC Councillor Joy Dennis, “as a response from the community to help those who fought for our country. Now, in different times, it’s great to see the revitalised Court Bushes site being open and available to be used for all in Hurstpierpoint.”