Survey gives overwhelming support to Fernhurst’s ambitious £1m pavilion plan

An artist's impression of the new pavilion
An artist's impression of the new pavilion

Organisers of the ambitious project to raise £1m for a new pavilion in Fernhurst have been stunned by the number of sports enthusiasts who come to the village to use their facilities.

An online survey asking for support of their ‘Pavilion 2022’ campaign revealed people travelled from Midhurst and surrounding villages as well as Petworth and Byworth.

They said they were delighted by the positive response to their survey. Fernhurst Recreation Ground Trustee John Mitchell said: “Concern has been expressed about the need and the cost but a sizeable 99 per cent of respondents do not believe a new pavilion is a ‘complete waste of time and money’.”

Nearly 150 people took part in the poll organised by the trust, representing a total of 462 family members: “54 per were from the village and the rest were from surrounding towns and villages,” said Mr Mitchell.

72 per cent agreed the rec provided a ‘vital’ role in keeping the local youth active, while 79 per cent classed the existing changing rooms and toilets as ‘unacceptable’.

“The response from the local community has been fantastic and recognises the incredible increase in sports participation since we built the tennis courts, cricket nets and landscaped the football pitch. In fact, membership is now more than 300 per cent over our estimates. It’s a good problem to have but the old pavilion simply cannot cope, especially when we need to hold two simultaneous events,” added Mr Mitchell.

Nearly 70 per cent of those surveyed said they never rented the current building but there was a clear demand for somewhere when not facilities were not needed by the sports clubs and perhaps to also have a café. 16 per cent were against hiring with concerns on parking.

Others questioned the cost asking why the current pavilion could not just be repainted.

Mr Mitchell said: “We want to get this right first time and you have to put it in context - a basic leisure centre costs over £10 million, our advice is £1m is realistic for a multi-sports village pavilion which looks the part in our beautiful setting. In terms of a new lick of paint, that simply doesn’t solve the problem of the sheer numbers. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see a kids football or cricket tournament happening at the same time as an event on the tennis courts? There is no way the current building can effectively host that.”

The trust aims to celebrate the sterling service of the current pavilion on its 50th anniversary in 2021 before demolishing it. The replacement would open the following year, 2022.

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