Council backs our bid to ‘make Epsom an arts town’

Councillors have unanimously voted to support our bid to convert Horton Chapel into a dynamic community hub for arts and heritage.

The project would see the Grade II listed Victorian building delivering an exciting programme of courses, performances, film screenings, exhibitions, events and children’s clubs, with flexible space all available for community hire. A café/bar would provide a much needed social space for local people, and a permanent exhibition about the fascinating history of Epsom’s Hospital Cluster, including oral histories of former staff and patients, would be open to the public free of charge.

Members of Epsom & Ewell’s Strategy & Resources Committee commended our vision and business plan, awarded us ‘preferred bidder’ status – and  pledged to release up to £1.45million for the scheme, provided we can raise the remaining funds needed.

The money currently being held by the Council, is made up of historic contributions from developers and other external sources that was ring-fenced for the use of Horton Chapel and surrounding areas.

Cllr Clive Woodbridge said at the meeting: “I don’t think anyone can fail to be impressed at what this group of people have achieved in such a short time. This is a quantum leap forwards from where we have ever been before with Horton Chapel.

“The [Horton Chapel Arts & Heritage] Society’s plan offers something the borough needs, something we don’t have. We can make Epsom an Arts Town with what we’ve got here.”

Both Cllr Woodbridge and Cllr Kate Chinn emphasised the important role played by the inaugural MGSO4 Epsom & Ewell Arts Festival, held in June 2016, for bringing the community together and kick-starting the borough’s creative future.

HCAHS chair Ian Reeves said: “We are delighted that Epsom & Ewell Borough Council has recognised the fantastic opportunity to convert Horton Chapel into a community arts and heritage centre. There is still have a long way to go to raise the total funds needed but will continue do our very best to make it happen. We are already planning on the next stage of development and look forward to working with the Council to make Horton Chapel a beacon of pride for the borough.”

The cost of bringing the deteriorating building back into use has been assessed as substantial and HCAHS has applied for matched funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Heritage Enterprise scheme and Architectural Heritage Fund, after having successfully won an HLF Start-up Grant of £10,000 in April. A decision from the Heritage Enterprise Fund is expected is December.