I have to declare that I am not a Horsham or indeed Sussex resident but I hope the County Times will allow me to contribute to the debate regarding the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant development and the parochial stance taken by both Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council.
The current bowling facility at Horsham is rather unique and a major South East sports venue. It is an eight rink facility. The nearby county of Surrey, which has the largest total of bowlers of any county in the UK, does not contain such a venue and the nearest similar located venues are at Southwick, Swanley, Basingstoke and Fareham.
We hear on the TV that property values are all about location, location, and location. The same is true for bowling venues and Horsham ticks all the boxes. The other locations in South East England tick very few of these boxes.
Horsham is the home of the English Bowls Youth Development Scheme (EBYDS) Sussex finals and the South West Area Finals. The EBYDS is the coaching scheme for all junior bowlers and our future County, National and International players.
Both the junior and senior skills finals need eight rinks for their organisation. Horsham’s facilities and location make it ideal for these events and the development of the sport of bowls.
While the Sussex finals have already taken place for this year the South East Area finals take place all day on Sunday April 13 so councillors come along and see what a facility you are intending to demolish and also enjoy the excellent restaurant facilities that can be sampled while watching the event.
The venue also rates national importance as on Saturday April 26 the venue hosts the launch of a new national Markers certificate course run by the Bowls Umpires’ Association, again because of Horsham’s unique location and facilities.
Because this venue is of such importance and value to the South East bowlers I would urge and encourage the members of Horsham Bowls Club to campaign for the full retention of the current facilities as it is known that the venue has at least a further ten years’ life without major refurbishment.
It is also noted through your columns that Horsham District Council stated that ‘The council has been speaking to the national sports bodies’. I would challenge the council to make public all communications prior to the announcement that they have had with Sports England and the Bowls National Governing Body the EIBA regarding the demolition of the bowls facility.
At the same time make public the communications since the announcement. While on the subject of Freedom of Information it would be interesting to see the figures that the council has used for the current participant activity hours by week or month for all the sports activities currently available at the BBH Quadrant and the projected figures for post development.
I can understand the difficulty that councillor Chowen has with this development. Clearly he needs to rebuild and locate new leisure – sports facilities. The only space appears to be the current bowls facility footprint, so why not build the new leisure centre above and around the existing bowls facility, a design challenge but one that would avoid the inevitable.
As soon as a planning application is made on this current plan it can be forecast that there will be a massive number of objections, time delays, probably public planning inquiry not to mention the probable court action against Horsham DC.
All of which will result in long delays, lost revenues, massive council legal and other costs.
Who will pay these very large costs? Sadly it will be you the Horsham DC tax paying residents not your councillors.
SEBCO coaching director (South East Bowls Coaching Organisation Ltd), Woodberry Close, Chiddingfold, Surrey