New Midhurst youth centre gets go-ahead

Midhurst is set to get a long awaited state-of-the-art purpose-built youth centre which is planned to open by the end of October next year.

West Sussex County Council’s design team has been given a £700,000 budget and has produced plans for a single-storey building on the site of the stable block at Whip Hill farmhouse on the corner of Lamberts Lane.

It includes a hall, multi-use area, offices, kitchen and consulting rooms.

The plan was unveiled to Midhurst town councillors by county councillor Nola Hendon, who said: “Ever since I have been a county councillor everyone has talked about replacing the present grotty little hut and so this is absolutely wonderful – the plans for the new youth facilities are so exciting.”

And town councillor Colin Hughes, who has been waiting more than four decades for the new building, told councillors it was fantastic news for Midhurst.

“We are about to have a new leisure and community centre at the Grange, a new school is being built and now we are also having a new youth club – Midhurst has become a little oasis of hope in what is fast becoming a barren land.”

He said when he came to Midhurst in l968, his first job had been to design and develop new youth facilities.

“But in all those years there has never been the money to do it. There have been many ideas, but nothing has happened.”

The present hut was already past its sell-by date. “It had been used to house troops in the war and afterwards a working party brought it to Midhurst to be the new youth club.”

It was placed on land given to the town for youth facilities by Lord Cowdray.

When building work began on the new Midhurst Rother College last year, Midhurst town councillors saw a chance to raise funds from the sale of the county council-owned tennis courts no longer required by the school and the site of the current hut.

Led by Mr Hughes, they began talks with the county council.

“We felt the land had been given to the town for youth facilities and if it was sold, the money should come back to the town,” said Mr Hughes.

“We had a meeting with the county youth officer and other county council officers earlier this year and after this we began to feel we had some chance of really getting a new youth centre.

“And after that the project went forward seriously through the capital programme committee and then we saw the plans, which are really exciting.”

He said the prime use would be a youth centre, but there would be space for other community activities at the weekends and during the day, including the Midhurst Nursery Class.

West Sussex County Council’s project manager Simon Elliott, who is also leading the new school scheme, told the Observer: “We hope to submit the plans to the South Downs National Park Authority in the next week.

He said the new centre would be built on the site of the stable block on the corner of Lamberts Lane, retaining as much of the present building as possible.

It would be a new single-storey building which would not be seen from the street.

It would be constructed in the courtyard behind the stable block.

“We are planning to build it at the same time as the school and have it open at the same time or shortly afterwards in the autumn of next year.”