A bit of history
In October 1972 the Martlets Hall in Burgess Hill was opened by the then chairman of the Arts Council, Lord Goodman. At the time he said that the hall “manifested the desire of people to live as a civilised community should live.” Over the years the Martlets Hall and its other rooms provided a focal point for the community. In 2016, the owners of the Martlets Hall, Mid Sussex District Council, decided that the building was not needed and it was closed (and later demolished) to make way for the town centre redevelopment scheme.
Unfortunately, the District Council decided not to provide a replacement despite a campaign in the town which attracted the support of over 7000 residents. As a result of this, Burgess Hill Town Council took the decision to investigate how it might be able to step in and provide a replacement community facility and performing arts venue.
Purchase of the 'RBL'
Burgess Hill Town Council had purchased the Royal British Legion building in 2014 because it was located in the part of the town centre identified as the Cultural and Civic quarter in the Neighbourhood Plan. Initially it was thought that this building could be brought into use for community purposes but when the Martlets Hall was closed it became clear that redevelopment of the site was needed to cater for the town’s needs.
In 2016, the Town Council created two working parties to look at the community and performing arts needs of the town and then appointed an external firm of consultants to carry out an independent needs analysis. The final result of this, after a few twists and turns, is The Beehive project.
Planning permission for a building on the Royal British Legion site was granted in January 2020. During 2020, Burgess Hill Town Council revisited an earlier design which incorporated the neighbouring Cyprus Hall building (which Burgess Hill Town Council also owns) and the latest plan now includes the potential to completely refurbish Cyprus Hall and combine it with The Beehive at a later date (Phase 3). This would give Burgess Hill the sort of facilities that a growing and diverse community needs.
The Beehive will run on a not-for-profit basis and was registered as a charity in October 2020 as The Beehive CIO (Charity number: 1191705). Like all Charities we have brought on board a number of patrons from the fields of the arts, community and local business to support the promotion of The Beehive project. As a tribute to the life of Dame Vera Lynn, who was a Patron, we shall be dedicating the auditorium to her.
When will The Beehive open?
We are asking residents to support Burgess Hill Town Council's request, to the government’s Public Works Loan Board, for a loan of up to £4.8m to get Phase 1 of The Beehive project completed. The Town Council will not need to increase its element of the council tax to repay the loan which will be funded from existing budgets without the need to cut services. But we need residents to support our plan which is why we are inviting you to complete our survey when it goes live on 22 March. If the loan is approved then work will start THIS YEAR and The Beehive looks to open in 2023.
We believe that Burgess Hill deserves an accessible, modern and welcoming community facility and performing arts venue. Please support us and The Beehive project.
The Town Council will not need to increase its element of the council tax to repay the loan which will be funded from existing budgets without the need to cut services.
Phase 1: £5.27 Million
The core of the project will be funded by a loan from the Public Works Loan Board of up to £4.8million, with the balance from funds the town council has set aside and other already identified third party monies.
The Council will continue to seek funds from other sources to either
reduce the amount it borrows or use it towards the cost of Phase 2 and Phase 3.
This plan and design has been put together by a highly professional team including the former director of the Royal Opera House, the former director of the Brighton Dome and the Aedas Architectural and Design Practice who have won awards internationally for their work.