Parish centre to be opened up

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PLANS to open up Southwater Parish Council’s premises to be used by the wider public and build a single storey extension have been approved.

Last week Horsham District Council development management committee voted through the plans to change the use of Easteds Barn so it can be used for more than just meetings but for wider community activities.

In July 2010 and February 2011 the barn was the centre of debate when applications were made for it to be used as an infant school with members of the public concerned they wanted it to be open for all the community to use.

Last week the plans were passed with little controversy, but members of the committee noted that under the new usage, the centre could still be used as an infant school.

The report recommended members to approve the plans but noted that ‘under a general D1 use [an infant school] would be able to be provided’.

David Holmes (LDem, Horsham Park) said: “I appreciate that this widens the use of possible usage of this community centre, but it says it could be used for an infant school.

“It would then cease to be used for the rest of the community.

“Previously there was very strong opposition against it to be used as a infant school and by approving this we are now saying to the parish council that they can use it for whatever they like.”

David Sheldon (LDem, Denne) suggested that members define the terms ‘community use’ and ‘community purpose’ so that the district council had some control of what the centre is used for in the future.

Members delegated the plans for approval to the head of planning and environmental services subject to legal agreements.