Anger over Sussex arts and performance venue closure

Despite huge opposition, Mid-Sussex District Council has pushed ahead with Clair Hall's closure

There's been criticism of a council decision to close an arts and performance venue in Sussex.

Close to 5,000 people signed a petition calling for it stay open, but Mid-Sussex District Council has confirmed Clair Hall in Haywards Heath will shut.

The centre has been open for over 50 years and was shut - like all indoor venues - during lockdown in March.

Clair Hall Credit: Clair Hall closed in March as the country went into lockdown

However the authority says the pandemic has 'brought the issues to a head', describing the building as not fit for purpose and not economically viable.

Mid Sussex District Councillor John Belsey said, "Sadly COVID-19 has created considerable difficulties for community facilities with many activities not allowed to go ahead due to social distancing and Government restrictions. Unfortunately, this causes problems for a building such as Clair Hall, which is over 50 years old, with substantial maintenance costs and which has already been experiencing falling usage."

Campaigners who disagree with the decision are disappointed and say the site is vital.

  • Anne-Marie Cooke is one of thousands of people against the closure

Following its decision, Conservative-led Mid-Sussex District Council says it wants to now consult with community groups over the future of the site but opposition councillors fear it will be several years, at least, if the site was to be replaced.

  • Councillor Alison Bennett is Group Leader for the Liberal Democrats in Mid-Sussex

Mid-Sussex District Council say it will 'consult' on future community space

Mid-Sussex District Council says it will work through the next few months to develop a plan for a new community facility within a wider regeneration of Haywards heath.

Councillor John Belsey continued, "We want to work on the business case and options for the provision of modern community facilities that could better meet the needs of residents and visitors to Haywards Heath. This independently facilitated engagement is an important next step to build the evidence base of the current and future needs of the community."