‘Exciting’ plans for new youth facility in Billingshurst

EYE project artists' impression (photo submitted). SUS-151210-135404001
EYE project artists' impression (photo submitted). SUS-151210-135404001

‘Exciting’ plans for a new facility for young people in Billingshurst have been submitted to Horsham District Council.

The EYE Project, a youth and education centre, was originally planned on Billingshurt Parish Council-owned land next to the children and family centre, but this scheme fell through in 2013.

Now plans have been resurrected on land owned by West Sussex County Council off Myrtle Lane and a planning application has been submitted to HDC. Billingshurst Community Partnership is leading the initiative.

Denise Campbell, chair of the partnership, explained that a large number of residents had expressed a wish for youth facilities as they put together a community-led plan, and she has urged villagers to get behind proposals.

She said: “We feel it’s a very exciting project.”

Although its primary use will be for 11-25-year-olds, it will also ‘be there for the community’ and anyone who engages with young people, and will aim to ‘empower’ them by letting them access information and support that they currently have to visit either Chichester, Horsham or Crawley to find.

Other uses could include after-school clubs, mentoring programmes, and would also have a coffee shop providing young people with an informal place to meet friends.

She added: “It’s huge. The potential is really really huge.”

Mrs Campbell explained how Billingshurst had a number of youth clubs and organisations but they had to meet across the village in ad-hoc locations. She added: “In terms of social and recreational aspects there is nothing in Billingshurst for people to use.”

However the project has divided opinion in the past and Billingshurst Parish Council has objected to the planning application due to highways issues and access, noise and disturbance, the layout and design, building maintenance, surface water flooding, and the ‘incompatibility’ of all the building’s proposed uses.

But Mrs Campbell added: “I can’t understand why people would not want this. We need to empower young people and we need to encourage young people to be good citizens and engage in the community.”

She has urged people to view plans and register their support. To view the application visit www.horsham.gov.uk/planning using the code DC/15/1967.

Bids for funding would be submitted if and when planning permission is secured.

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