Nomination of Capitol Theatre and Horsham Museum offers protection to town’s ‘crown jewels’

JPCT S13481027x 251113 Horsham. Capitol. -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT S13481027x 251113 Horsham. Capitol. -photo by Steve Cobb

If two of Horsham’s ‘crown jewel’ attractions are ever put up for sale the town will have a chance to bid for them.

The Horsham Society’s efforts to list Horsham Museum and the Capitol Theatre as assets of community value was accepted by Horsham District Council this week.

This comes a week after the County Times exclusively revealed proposals for a multiplex cinema in the town, plans which the Horsham Society thought could ‘kill’ the Capitol.

The group’s application for Drill Hall, in Denne Road, to be listed was accepted earlier this year.

David Moore, chairman of the Horsham Society, said: “There are buildings in Horsham which are the crown jewels and these three happen to be owned by the council and there should be an opportunity for the people in Horsham to acquire them if they come up for sale.”

He added: “It gives some opportunity to give some protection and giving the community the chance, if the owner decides to sell it an opportunity to acquire it.”

HDC, which owns both the buildings, has eight weeks to appeal the decision.

Mr Moore said the group had sat down and discussed what assets of community value in Horsham ought to be protected in some way.

Under the Localism Act, when any site on the register of assets of community value is up for sale the group that nominated it would have six months to put in a bid to buy it.

While the Horsham Society would not be able to raise the funds itself, Mr Moore said they could look at publicising the sale and possibly raising subscriptions.

He added: “They are part of the heart of Horsham and my own view is from HDC’s point of view even though they have no obligations if they want to keep the town alive in real terms they’ve got to be part of the package.

“We have to protect what we have got.”

Jonathan Chowen (Con, Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead), HDC’s cabinet member for arts, heritage and leisure, felt that even if a new cinema came to the town the Capitol could be retained by changing its programme.

However, he did admit there were risks involved and it would represent a significant change for Horsham.

According to Mr Moore the Capitol, in North Street, which used to be the old ABC cinema, was acquired by HDC in 1981.

Horsham Museum has occupied the Causeway site since just after the Second World War.