VOTE: Plans to be discussed on the future of Herbert Shiner School

PLANS to turn the former Herbert Shiner school buildings at Petworth into a community centre are being discussed with West Sussex County Council.

Tony Sneller told fellow Petworth town councillors the proposals had taken a step forward at a meeting between Petworth and District Community Association, other Petworth organisations and the county council recently.

“The proposal to the county council is to set up a management committee to take on the lettings as from April 1 this year,” he reported.

He said the committee would be responsible for the opening, for cleaning and finding uses for the Herbert Shiner facilities.

But he said negotiations were still in progress to discuss income generation and work towards a community asset transfer next year.

There were also issues over the provision of more toilets in the building and who would pay for the maintainence.

He said it was proposed the community association would be the custodians of the building, but the management committee would be made up of a broader group with representation from many organisatons in the town.

Ideas for the future use of the art and music rooms, the three classrooms upstairs and the tow main halls at the former school would be welcomed, Mr Sneller told the meeting.

Fellow town councillor Judy Howard issued a note of caution over the proposals.

She said the possibility of an asset transfer was being examined, but it was possible the former school would remain under the auspicies of the county council depending on whether the Petworth community was prepared to take on the responsibility.

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “We are waiting for the community to come forward with specific proposals on how it might run the building on a sustainable basis. A community meeting is being held this month and its outcome is awaited.

“Part of the building is used regularly for community lettings, and the WRVS has a kitchen for Meals on Wheels preparation.”