The New Park Community Centre was originally Chichester Central School, built in 1887 to meet the requirements of a new bill on compulsory education. The building was used as a school until 1968 when it was relocated.
In 1974 the clubs and playgroup that used the one-time Chichester Central School joined with the Chichester Society in persuading Chichester District Council not to demolish the Victorian buildings to make room for a dual carriageway. They formed an association that raised enough money to repair the neglected fabric, renew the wiring, much of the roof and all of the toilets.
Over the next 25 years, new groups joined, more money was raised and with support from City and District Councils, the Association created, notably: a spectators' gallery for the martial arts area; retractable seating for the theatre area; a bar and social room; offices; toilets for disabled; the Hall Next Door; professional cinema screen, projection and sound systems. 2007-8 saw a new heating and air-conditioning system installed in the main auditorium, and new sound equipment for the cinema.
In 1990 and 2000 development schemes were mooted which if adopted could have resulted in the loss of the Victorian school building. However, it rapidly became clear that there was immense public support for retaining the community centre. It demonstrated how much the centre and the activities available there were valued by the people of Chichester and the surrounding area.
As a consequence of this, the Council has been pleased to agree not only to preserve the original fabric of the unique Victorian building, but also to lend its full support to an imaginative new development which includes complete refurbishment of the centre...
...And the creation of a brand new wing to provide purpose built facilities for our extraordinarily successful cinema, and fit-for-purpose facilities throughout the centre.
A charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England & Wales as
New Park Community and Arts Association
New Park Community Centre, New Park Road, Chichester, PO19 7XY
Company No. 5459818 Charity No. 1110112
Telephone: 01243 536 840 www.newparkcentre.org.uk