Ambitious plans to renovate Sussex Yacht Club’s historic Southwick building would benefit the whole community, members of the public were told at a consultation.
David Skinner, a yacht club member and chairman of the project’s subcommittee, told more than a dozen attendees at the site in Riverside, Southwick, about the building’s history and how, if restored, it could be hired out for small conferences, weddings and other functions, while schools would be invited to visit on educational trips.
Asking attendees to complete feedback forms, Mr Skinner stressed the importance of hearing people’s views and said: “We want to know we are doing the right thing for the community.”
A tour was given of the building, which was originally a malt house. Visitors were shown the original concrete steeping floor, on which barley was laid and watered until it sprouted.
Mr Skinner pointed out evidence that the building, where the club holds sailing classes for disabled people, is not fit for purpose. At some points rooms are only 5ft 2ins high, there are not enough toilets and showers, and asbestos has been found in the walls.
“It desperately needs a facelift,” Mr Skinner said. “A lot of work has got to be done.”
The club are bidding for £1 million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project, having received an initial grant of £13,000.
Business team member Stuart Newman said the public response had been positive so far.
Nigel Divers, secretary of the Southwick society, approved of the proposals and said: “Restoring the building and giving it a community use has got to be good for everybody.
“It’s part of Southwick’s character and heritage. A lot of people will be interested.”
Liz Slough, 70, of Watling Road, said: “I love Southwick, I’m proud to live here and this building is an extension of that pride. It’s an absolutely fascinating place.”
Andy Willems, investment officer at Adur and Worthing council, said the proposal was great and that the council were supportive of the plan.
Feedback collected will be incorporated into a business plan, which will be ready by the end of December.
Anyone who was not able to attend the consultation but would like to share their views can complete an online survey here