The ‘death’ of the district’s indoor bowls club could be the result of the council’s plans to redevelop the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant.
Last week Horsham District Council unveiled its proposals for the quadrant, which include a new leisure facility, medical centre, hotel, restaurants, retail units, and up to 200 apartments.
However members of Horsham District Indoor Bowls Club, based opposite the Broadbridge Heath Tesco, have bombarded the County Times with letters expressing their horror at the prospect of being made homeless.
John Coghlan, chairman of the bowls club, said that while he was delighted for the leisure centre he was ‘absolutely disgusted’ by the treatment of his club, and said it was the ‘sacrificial lamb’ in HDC’s plans.
He added: “HDC is not intending to re-provide a replacement facility, they are considering that if indoor bowls were included it would not represent anything akin to what now takes place.
“It is bit like replacing a ten-pin bowling establishment with pub skittles.”
The council announced the decision to decommission Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre next to the Indoor Bowls Club in November 2011, but after a hard-fought campaign it committed to building a replacement facility at a meeting in June 2012.
The approved ‘People’s Option 7A’ included the provision of six bowls rinks within the new centre, down from the eight rinks currently provided in the quadrant.
However Mr Coghlan said he and the other directors were ‘stunned’ when Jonathan Chowen, HDC’s cabinet member for arts, heritage and leisure shared the latest plans for the quadrant with them.
Without any firm commitments to a replacement facility to the club’s specifications Mr Coghlan felt that many bowlers would play elsewhere, resulting in the eventual ‘death’ of the club.
Established 19 years ago it is the only indoor bowls facility in the district, has a national reputation, welcomes more than 2,000 players each year, and even spent £50,000 three years ago upgrading its facilities as it expected its lease on the premises to be extended from 2015 to 2025.
A spokesperson for HDC said: “Progress has been made in preparing an outline scheme for the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant but it’s still at an early stage.
“The council has been speaking with the local community, national sporting bodies and local sports clubs, including the Horsham District Indoor Bowls Club.
“The council will be carefully considering the business case from the Indoor Bowls Club alongside other options on what will be included in the new centre.”