Here’s when Royal British Legion will take over running of historic Horsham building

The battle to save Horsham’s Drill Hall has come to an end, with the building being placed in the care of the district’s branch of the Royal British Legion.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 2:37 pm
Drill Hall, Denne Road, Horsham. Pic Steve Robards SR20012202 SUS-200122-150127001

There was applause from members of the public on Wednesday (October 13) as councillors agreed the hall should be leased to the RBL for up to 30 years at a peppercorn rent.

The decision ended 18 months of campaigning which followed the hugely unpopular suggestion in early 2020 that the hall should make way for affordable housing.

Addressing the meeting of the full council, committee member Joseph Lyons laid out the RBL’s aims for the 94-year-old building.

Mr Lyons said the idea was to replace its current ‘time-worn and unremarkable’ home with ‘an iconic headquarters’  to build on and improve what it offered to the Armed Forces community – regular and reserve, serving and retired.

It would also be used as a community building and hired out to groups as a means of raising funds.

The money would certainly be needed.

The council estimated that it would take £1m to modernise and update the building to make it fit for purpose as a modern facility – and to improve the energy efficiency of the building.

Heads of terms agreed with the RBL state that, if it fails to increase the hall’s energy rating from the current D to B within seven years, the rent would increase to £50,000 per year.

Looking to the future, Mr Lyons said membership of the RBL was currently a healthy 124 – but there were plans to increase this, particularly to include younger members.

He told the meeting: “The Drill Hall’s implicit history as a military building will provide a level of continuity there for an element of Horsham’s history.

“Our volunteers bring a wealth of diverse experience with them, both civilian and military.

“The Legion naturally taps into this skill pool with county and national bodies for support where necessary, largely free of charge.

“In short, the Horsham branch of the Royal British Legion will welcome the opportunity to operate this important building at the heart of our town – and you can be assured that it will be in good hands.”

The Legion will take over the running of the Drill Hall on April 1, 2022.