A NEW £1.5 million community centre serving a growing Worthing suburb brimming with families could open at Easter.
West Durrington Community Centre, off New Road, was being paid for by Tesco, which last February opened a giant superstore nearby.
It will serve a population expected to rise by thousands in the next few years, if 870 homes are constructed on fields farmed by the Castle Goring estate.
The original community centre was unveiled in 1984, when West Durrington’s population was far smaller.
Since then, hundreds of houses have been built in the area and the centre is today so busy, that manager Jackie Tettersell has reluctantly had to turn some groups wishing to meet there away.
However, Jackie is confident the new complex, being constructed alongside Romany Road, will meet growing demand for facilities.
At present, 63 groups, catering for all ages and dozens of different interests, are affiliated, but Jackie admitted: “We do run out of space at times.
“We just cannot accommodate everybody, it’s just not possible.”
The new centre will be half as big again as the existing one, with a second hall the asset most prized by Jackie, who started as a playgroup helper when it first opened 26 years ago.
Jackie, who has been manager for 12 years, said: “It’s always been a busy place, but over the years, with all the new housing, it’s got even busier.
“We are going to have a large hall, a smaller hall, and three meeting rooms, plus a coffee lounge in the new centre. That second hall is something we desperately need. People are really looking forward to it.”
The foundation stone, bearing the name of Roger Eastment, who has been the centre’s unpaid treasurer since 1984, was laid in November.
Jackie, who hopes to organise a party and open day while raising £10,000 for new furniture and fittings, said: “It’s a very rewarding job. One minute you can be making tea and the next listening to people’s problems.
“It’s like having an extended family, and some of the children who started here almost 30 years ago now bring their own children.”
The centre has one full-time manager, one part-time helper, evening warden Carl Suter, and about 35 volunteers.