Plans to get rid of the Drill Hall have surfaced on the County Times website.
[The Council] ‘says the Drill Hall is currently under-used, is old, poorly designed for modern needs, with high running costs’. It’s difficult to know what underused means without an idea of how much they think it should be used and how they reached that conclusion. I’m not aware of any concerted attempt to increase users of the facility which I think it’s fair to say has never been a high priority at the Council. As for running costs it is a bit galling to have those listed as a main reason to knock the Hall down when if the work that had been planned, and the building arranged to be closed for in 2005 & 8, had happened it wouldn’t have high running costs and would have been good for another eighty years.
‘Analysis shows that most current users of the Drill Hall could be accommodated at the proposed Highwood site in an enhanced purpose-built facility.’ As long you’re happy with being more than two miles from the town centre where people have to specifically travel for an event. It does vary with what’s on but for stall holder and similar events that rely on footfall a trip here can be combined with a visit to the town. The extra travel naturally leads on to asking what the plans for public transport are as not everyone has a car or can afford a taxi and hopefully few people drive to beer festivals and parties. At a time when it is goal to reduce private transport to improve the environment and quality of life is this a forward thinking decision?
With the rate of housing and population growth in the District additional facilities would seem to be required rather than partially replacing one that already exists. What does it say about the future of Horsham Town itself that a venue for public use in its centre is no longer considered a necessity. Have the Council given up on Horsham becoming somewhere other than where people sleep at night before leaving for work and entertainment? Having read through the 96 pages of a recent vision document which came to the grand conclusion that Horsham needs to change from a ‘market town’ to a ‘modern market town’ I do wonder.
It seems Horsham Council have learnt precisely the wrong lesson from the Sports Centre debacle of a few years ago and instead of actually discussing the future of this Public Asset in the open they’re tried to force it through as quickly as possible to avoid proper scrutiny. If more Senior Officers had a connection to the town and the Council Cabinet didn’t consist largely of those from rural Wards it’s doubtful these sort of proposals would ever see the light of day.
The above can all be argued but what is fact is that when the Town Hall was closed it was stated in mitigation that the Drill Hall was available for people to use instead
there was a promise of wide consultation and discussion of any future plans to dispose of the Town’s Community Assets. They have either been forgotten or ignored.
I am of course speaking as a resident of Horsham since 1969 and not in an official capacity. If the case to close it is good then so be it, cheaper housing is much needed, and from a personal point of view I’d be happy to take the redundancy and run. But have a real discussion based on the facts of the matter rather than as one customer put it, ‘making out they’re doing us a favour by closing it’.