30 years ago

FROM the West Sussex County Times of Friday, November 13, 1981.

THE REAL life drama gripping Horsham’s Capitol Theatre continued with residents clamouring to know its future.

Fears were sparked off when a secret meeting of two council committees were followed by the shock resignation of the theatre’s manager, John Aldred.

Since then rumours have spread through the town like wildfire and most common is that the Capitol is to be sold and the site redeveloped for shopping.

On Tuesday the council’s chief executive, Douglas Balmford, issued a press statement confirming that: “Consideration is being given to certain possible property transactions and in this connection the present Capitol Theatre site has been discussed.”

He stressed that no decisions on the site had been made and that the future of the theatre was a matter for the whole council which had not yet considered it.

“The plain fact is that the council has a policy to maintain theatre facilities in Horsham and any change in such policy would be debated in open council before a decision was reached,” he concluded.

For those looking at the whole entertainment picture in Horsham the Capitol scare follows hard on the heels of the closure at the weekend of the Mecca bingo club in the town and threats to close the ABC cinema earlier this year.

SPECULATION over the Mecca Bingo Hall in North Street, Horsham, ended when it was disclosed that the site is likely to form part of a new office development.

Alan Joyner, Horsham District Council’s district planning officer, revealed that for a considerable time negotiations have been going on with the owners of the old Classic Cinema over the site on the corner of North Street and Albion Way.

The owners of the Mecca building and site, Inter Centre Developments Ltd, have sought outline planning consent for offices on the Linden site.

It will be up to the council’s area one plans sub-committee to give the green light for the development and, in view of the fact that the council owns the major part of the site of nearly 60,000 square feet, approval is likely.

THE WAY was opened up this week for major developments in the village of Broadbridge Heath which are certain to mean huge investments exceeding £20m.

It will bring the village a much needed new bypass, major housing developments, a new industrial estate offering hundreds of jobs, a new garage, open spaces and hopefully a new village hall.

The ‘unique’ package deal was sealed in a massive round of contract signing which took nearly all day at County Hall in Chichester.

It is understood to be the first multi-ownership deal of its type in the country, and the precedent for others in the future.

One of the most important aspects of the package is that it provides private money to pay for the Broadbridge Heath bypass – which can now be built ten years ahead of schedule.

Once the road is under way it will mean work can begin on the first phase of 300 new homes on 20 acres.

Seven acres will be developed by Lawson Hunt Ltd to provide 31 factory units on a new industrial park off the A281 Guildford Road.

Part of the deal will include the relocation of Fishers Garage from North Parade, a Horsham residential area, to a site at Farthings Hill House.

Also on the way will be two new public open spaces, three children’s play areas, and a site for a new village hall.