30 years ago

FROM the West Sussex County Times of Friday, January 8, 1982.

AFTER two months of secrecy, it’s official! Horsham District Council is planning to sell the Capitol Theatre to a major store, and to buy the ABC cinema in North Street to replace it.

The Capitol would be sold to Marks and Spencer Ltd, to be redeveloped as a shop, and the proceeds from the sale would be used to acquire the cinema and convert it for theatre, cinema and other uses.

Members of the council’s key policy and resources committee agreed to the proposals in principle and have passed on seven major recommendations for approval by the full council.

They will be debated at the council’s next meeting giving the public just ten days to make representations to councillors.

Even before the committee meeting, a number of protests about the possibility of the Capitol closing had been delivered to the council.

A protest letter, bearing 1,818 signatures, was handed to Evelyn Mauchel as she arrived at Park House Lodge to chair the meeting of the recreation and environment committee by Barbara Gumbrill, publicity manager of Horsham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, and Margaret Fisher, the society’s secretary.

Petitions have also been received from Horsham Film Society and from ‘residents and ratepayers of Horsham’ and the secretary of the Capitol Theatre Club has written to the council ‘deploring the very thought of the Capitol Theatre being closed, made redundant or demolished’.

But the policy and resources committee agreed at its meeting with the council’s director of technical services, Brian Bilton, that in the ABC Theatre the council could provide a facility ‘at least as good as, if not better than, the Capitol’.

ANOTHER link between the Norfolk family and the United Reformed Church of Horsham was forged on Sunday when Her Grace, Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk, came to lay the foundation stone of the new church building in Springfield Road.

The ties between the Norfolks and the church date back to 1813, when the elders of the day bought the present site from the 11th Duke of Norfolk at what was then known as Swan Meadow, for the sum of £50.

Since that time, two churches have been built on the Springfield Road site.

The second – a lofty Victorian edifice built in 1883 – was demolished last year to make way for the third, very modern-looking church, and five storey office block.

NEW HOUSES to be built at Steyning’s Gatewick Farm will have tiny gardens, despite opposition from many Horsham planners.

Some of the homes on the new estate will have rear gardens with an area of just 400 square feet, nearly half the 750 square feet recommended in the council’s planning policy. The size of the gardens was criticised by Ken Jones at the meeting of the council’s area two planning committee. Mr Jones said he had been on the working party which recommended the 750 square feet minimum.

“These people have driven a coach and horses through the working party’s recommendations. We said at the time that if a play area were provided, gardens smaller than 750 square feet could be acceptable, but I am horrified that it has come down to as little as 400 square feet,” he said.

Jackie Campbell said the houses with the small gardens would be those bought by first-time buyers, young couples with small children, and the gardens were not big enough. She said she thought the working party’s recommendations were being ‘thrown out of the window’.

“We must consider that some people do not like large gardens,” said John Scragg. Other councillors agreed, and said if people wanted a larger garden they would not buy one of the properties below the minimum of 750 square feet.