30 years ago - Leonardslee

From the West Sussex County Times of Friday, April 15, 1983.

Leonardslee Gardens in Lower Beeding is facing a cash crisis and its future may be at stake.

The gardens and house have just been taken over by Robin Loder, son of Sir Giles Loder, who has retired.

A Horsham planning committee was told that Mr Loder had new plans for the gardens and house and gave the go-ahead for discussion on them between council officers and Mr Loder.

David Jenkins, chairman of the planning committee, said he had pressed for the Leonardslee issue to be brought into public session as they were of national importance and people came from far and wide to visit them.

“As far as I am concerned the future of the gardens may be at stake and I will do all in my power to make sure they are kept open to the public.”

Mr Loder said: “We are up against it. Nobody has made money out of running this garden ever.” He explained he was now looking at many schemes and had been in touch with stately home and public garden owners asking for money-making suggestions.

“There is a possibility it could be turned over to a museum, offices or even a hotel. These are just three of the hundred different options or alternatives we are looking at.”

Mr Loder recognised that if no solution could be found it might be necessary to close the gardens. “It is my wish that the gardens should continue, but nothing in life save taxes and death is certain.

“It is essential the gardens should not be a loss-making thing because I have not yet found a fairy godmother who can fund the losses. An answer could be to bring in another party, but nothing is finalised. We are in the ideas stage.”

Mr Loder said at the moment he had no plans to move out of the main house as he had just spent a lot of money refurnishing it after his father left.

In looking to the long term future, he said he was always open to suggestions to improve the efficient running of the gardens.

It was possible if another business were introduced into the gardens that a small office could be set up in the house to run it. There was also the chance that he might want to convert an outbuilding into a house for an employee or one of his children.

More than 100 Billingshurst residents attended a special meeting which launched a new campaign to push forward the proposed village bypass.

The meeting was organised by ex-parish councillor Kenneth Longhurst with the support of the Billingshurst Society and the parish council.

Mr Longhurst chaired the meeting which was addressed by Maurice Parsons, assistant county surveyor. At present only half the bypass project is in a roll-on programme for 1993-94. This is the northern half, which would run from the A29 just north of Billingshurst to Frenches Mead. The bypass would run to the bottom of Andrew’s Hill taking coastbound traffic away from the village.

Villagers have been trying for many years to persuade the county of the need for a bypass. In 1967 a petition containing 3,500 signatures was presented to the Department of the Environment but the only response was an acknowledgement. Mr Longhurst said at the meeting that there was a ‘dire need’ for the full bypass. He said that the parish council had, some years ago, been very keen about it but it had died down recently. He said that it has only been brought up again now following the Government’s discussion to allow heavier lorries, up to 40 tonnes, onto the roads. “It’s time to take some sort of action,” Mr Longhurst said.