‘Shame parish council and partnership can’t agree on Billingshurst youth centre plans’

EYE project artists' impression (photo submitted). SUS-151210-135404001

EYE project artists' impression (photo submitted). SUS-151210-135404001

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A ‘fantastic’ new youth centre in Billingshurst has been approved, despite continuing opposition from the parish council.

Billingshurst Community Partnership (BCP) gained planning permission for its Education and Youth Enterprise (EYE) Centre project off Myrtle Lane from Horsham District Council’s Development Control South Committee on Tuesday.

Applicant Patrick Perks, from the community partnership, explained that the project had been in development since 2009, and was designed to act as a drop-in centre for young people to meet and socialise.

Keith Brown, chairman of the Friends of Station Road Gardens, said: “Many people have worked relentlessly to get to the stage of a planning application and overcome setbacks along the way.”

Jessie Wilson, a Year 10 student at The Weald, added: “It’s a fantastic idea and would be really valuable resource for the young people of Billingshurst.”

The council received 97 letters of support, but 33 residents wrote to HDC to object to the scheme, while Billingshurst Parish Council (BPC) strongly objected to the proposals. Beverley Bell, parish clerk at BPC, said the project was proposed in a ‘tricky area’ of the village, felt parking would be difficult to police during drop-off and collections, and raised questions over securing access across a private road.

She explained: “It places too much pressure on an already congested locality.”

Objector Lesley Wilding argued that noise from the site would affect nearby properties, suggesting young people were ‘loud and exuberant especially in groups’.

Kate Rowbottom (Con, Billingshurst and Shipley) thought it would be of ‘enormous value’, while Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater) added: “I think it’s a great facility and it’s a perfectly reasonable location.”

Chair of the committee Brian O’Connell (Con, Henfield) added: “It’s a shame this application comes forward when the community partnership and parish council can’t seem to agree.”

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