New closure date for Midhurst Grange

The first column has been put in place on the site for Midhurst's new leisure centre
The first column has been put in place on the site for Midhurst's new leisure centre

MANAGER of the Grange Leisure Centre Mike Boyce and his team are looking for more bookings after discovering they will have to keep the centre open seven weeks longer than expected.

A week-long commemoration was being planned to celebrate the end of an era at the much-loved building.

It included an exhibition of life at the Grange, due to be opened by town council chairman John Etherington on November 18.

As the completion of Midhurst’s new leisure centre nears, staff were expecting to close the current building on November 24.

Now, they have been told the anticipated date of completion is January 31 and under their agreement with Chichester District Council (CDC) they will have to keep the current Grange open until two weeks before that.

Centre manager Mike Boyce said: “Once the news sank in I realised our diary was completely empty of bookings from November 25 and that left me with a major problem concerning income as we had no events, no room hirings and no winter sports leagues booked in.

“The team here have all been brilliant and rallied round contacting our existing hirers and clubs to let them know we will be fully operational until mid January and to keep supporting us where they can.”

Monthly markets are back on the diary as well indoor car boots booked in and there is even a Christmas panto on December 22.

“It will be a challenging time and I hope our users old and new will continue with us until the new centre opens,” said Mike.

A CDC spokesman said: “We are aiming to keep this closure down to a minimum and we are discussing whether early access to the building, before January 31, is possible to work on the fit out.

“We are aiming to have the building open at the beginning of February.”

The new centre will include sport and leisure facilities, a library, customer service information for both CDC and West Sussex County Council and a registrar office.

It is hoped the police will also join the building later next year.