Heart of the community

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Untypically calm: once the doors open the centre at Crowborough is bursting with activity

With the future of the Tilling Green community centre hanging in the balance and the need for fresh ideas, a team involved in the Rye Neighbourhood Plan have been to see what is behind the success of nearby Crowborough’s award-winning community centre.

Heidi Foster led members of the plan’s community infrastructure sub-group on the trip during which they met Chantal Wilson, chair of Crowborough Community Association and two other trustees, David Larkin and Clive Wilson.

The centre was completed in summer 2011 after a long journey to find the land and funding and recently won highly commended in the Sussex Heritage Trust awards. The group from Rye were interested in learning more about the set-up, membership and running of the association, which has been supported by the national organisation Locality, part of the development trust and community enterprise movement.

Foster said: “We were able to ask many detailed questions. The visit has given us plenty of ideas about what we need to focus on over the coming months.”

Dan Lake, chair of Tilling Green Residents’ Association, said: “The new community centre at Crowborough was an inspiring place to visit. Last year they had over 3,000 individual bookings with more groups coming forward to provide activities all the time.”

Rye’s draft neighbourhood plan stresses the importance of community centres, but a question mark hangs over the one at Tilling Green; negotiations between possible developers and East Sussex County Council, who own the land, have been going on for months.

The development of the site by Rye Partnership and Amicus Horizon is expected to involve a mix of private and affordable housing, together with a smaller building for community use. Any decision will be followed by consultations and a planning application to Rother District Council, a Rye Town Council meeting was told recently.

Rye residents are currently being consulted on the draft neighbourhood plan, which has been sent to every home, and comments must be returned by July 27.

To see a successful community centre in action, visit the Crowborough website.

Swapping ideas: from the left Matt Follett, Dan Lake, Chris Coverdale, Chantal Wilson, Rosemary Boucherat, Heidi Foster, Tracy Dighton and Clive Wilson
Swapping ideas: from the left Matt, Dan Lake, Chris Coverdale, Chantal Wilson, Rosemary Boucherat, Heidi Foster, Tracy Dighton and Clive Wilson