Major concerns over congestion and air pollution

Local traffic congestion and air pollution are emerging as major concerns arising from the provision of more local housing.

Councils are facing what seems to be an impossible dilemma ... meeting strict Government minimum targets for allowing housing developments but without failing equally strict Government demands to bring dangerous air pollution levels to within legal limits.

Air monitoring in Shoreham has revealed that pollution near the busy roads regularly exceeds harmful levels, and the problem is worsening as new housing brings significant increases in traffic.

Dangerous air pollution is just one issue that has led to calls for much smarter traffic and transport management as the local population increases.

A workshop to explore sustainable transport options for Shoreham, sponsored by the county council and attended by the Shoreham Society, identified priorities for tackling key factors.

The workshop called for better access to Shoreham town centre for cyclists, pedestrians and public transport, with all three being given high priority over cars, vans and lorries. Feedback from a wide range of stakeholders at the workshop is being used to explore possible local infrastructure improvements.

In the meantime the Shoreham Society is encouraging continued monitoring of air pollution and traffic congestion, including an initiative by local residents in partnership with Friends of the Earth, and urging the local authorities to address these problems when considering local planning proposals.

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Adur local plan nearer approval

Proposals for Adur's future planning strategy are a step closer to receiving official approval.

A Government inspector scrutinising the draft Adur Local Plan has made suggestions for modifying the council's proposals, but significantly he  is not increasing the overall housing allocation nor introducing new areas for development beyond those already earmarked.

It means that controversial proposals by developers for housing off New Salts Farm Road, and by Steyning Road near the Adur flyover, will be easier for the council to resist as these sites are not designated for development in the draft plan.

It doesn't rule them out entirely, because developers can submit applications for non-designated land and can appeal against refusal, but having an approved local plan strengthens the council's hand.

The final draft submitted by the local council is viewable on this council website, which also contains links to the relevant documents. The inspector's suggestions for modifications will be subject to public consultation.

Progress towards finalising the Local Plan has been slow, with several changes being made to the number of proposed houses throughout the district.

Some 3,500 new homes are proposed for Adur by 2031, and such rate of development is inevitably controversial.

Tension between meeting housing demand and limiting harmful overdevelopment is a key issue. There is increasing debate over whether the Local Plan's housing provisions are driven more by profit opportunities for developers than by any genuine attempt to meet local housing needs.

Concerns are also recognised about traffic congestion and resultant air pollution, and also flood risk and strain on local services.

The Shoreham Society submitted a detailed response to the draft when it was first published.

The society says having a Local Plan in place as soon as possible is important to control random developments which could otherwise be pushed through without local approval under the new national planning framework.

HISTORY: Process began 2014. Consultations and amendments in 2015 and 2016. Submission to Government Oct 2016. Public hearings by Government Inspector held in Feb 2017. Consultation on his conclusions to be held during summer 2017. Adoption expected by the end of the year.

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New proposals for Beach Green

New proposals have been put forward for developing the site which includes the old toilet block on Beach Green, Shoreham Beach.

Earlier proposals floundered following the withdrawal of interest by the developer selected by the council, but Adur Council is now in talks with an acclaimed development company and the high-profile DJ Fatboy Slim.

Beach Green proposal

They are suggesting a multi-function community hub on similar lines to successful ventures at Shoreditch and Croydon as well as Fatboy Slim's Big Beach Cafe in Hove Lagoon.

Under the working name of Big Beach Box, the Shoreham Beach concept includes a new community cafe which could also have a roof terrace, changing rooms, and a centre for watersports.

Shoreham Beach Residents' Association (SBRA) is calling for full consultation about the proposals.

HISTORY: Redevelopment of the old toilet block has been a long-term intention for years. ADC chose a preferred developer in Spring 2016. Proposals were suggested and consultation conducted, but the preferred developer pulled out in Autumn 2016.

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Tighter parking controls urged

Adur Council and the police are being urged to clamp down on illegal, obstructive and inconsiderate parking in the town.

The Shoreham Society is calling on the authorities to take a firmer line on bad parking after receiving increasing complaints from members about selfish and illegal road behaviour.

Unauthorised parking in disabled bays, on pavements and yellow lines and in dangerous positions at junctions have all noticeably increased as road congestion has risen, says the society.

With the town's population increasing dramatically with new housing developments, the society predicts the problem will continue to get worse unless parking regulations are more diligently enforced.

Spurred by an initiative by local resident Barry Ruffell, who has raised the issue with councillors and relevant officers, the 500-strong society is adding its voice in pressing for the council's parking enforcement officers, and the police in serious cases, to wage war against anti-social and illegal parking.

Mr Ruffell, a musician with the popular local acoustic trio The Rude Mechanicals, has identified several town-centre spots where parking infringements regularly cause problems, and the society is asking its own members to report examples of anti-social parking. It can be done by phoning the council's parking services dpt on 0345 680 0189, and/or emailing the principal parking officer Jason Passfield. Residents who feel this is an important issue are also advised to inform their local councillor.

A society spokesman said: "At the moment there is a prevailing attitude by some motorists that 'it'll be OK here for just a few minutes while I pop into the shop or do this little errand'. They disregard the likelihood that their selfishly parked car will cause obstruction, inconvenience and possibly danger.

"A change of social attitude is needed, and the best way to bring that about will be for people to know there's a very high chance of finding their illegally-parked car ticketed."

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Affordable housing minimum urged

The Shoreham Society is calling on Adur council to insist that new residential developments must have a minimum of 30 per cent affordable housing - and up to 40 per cent for large developments.

The society says council planners should adopt a robust policy on housing, not letting developers cut back on the 30/40 per cent national guidelines for affordable properties or social housing.

Society members are concerned about a growing trend by developers to offer the full recommended quota of affordable housing at first, but later say it is not viable and seek a reduction before building.

A society spokesman said: "Councillors and planning officers in many areas are proving weak in response to developers' demands, allowing genuine local housing needs to be compromised in pursuit of what they mistakenly believe to be economic regeneration.”

"It can lead to a reduction in the provision of affordable homes, urgently required to meet the housing shortage for local families and workers. Instead it brings a predominance of high-cost luxury housing bringing much higher profits for developers but causing major social problems by attracting buyers from outside the area and increasing the strain on already-overstretched local infrastructure and services."

The society is urging councillors and planning officers to firmly resist any reductions in proposed affordable or social housing, to demand that developers open their books to independent inspection if they claim that the guidelines are not viable, and to decline planning consent for schemes that put profits before meeting real local housing needs.

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New Monks Farm plans revealed

Latest proposals have been revealed for the controversial New Monks Farm development planned for west of Shoreham Airport.

Extensive housing development in this area is included in the draft Adur Local Plan, despite concerns about the impact on local infrastructure and fears of flooding.

Some 600 homes and a new primary school are proposed, plus business and commercial premises including a large IKEA store.

A 28-hectare country park is also proposed in response to concerns over loss of open space.

At an exhibition in January outlining details of the proposal, the prospect of an IKEA store was welcomed by some visitors, but traffic congestion on the A27 was raised by others as a major problem from the development.

Lancing Parish Council voted to object to the development and asked for this to be considered by the government inspector reviewing the Adur Local Plan. But the general principle of developing this land has remained in the local plan and the inspector has made only minor suggestions for modifying it.

In January the Government's Local Growth Fund allocated 5.7m for road works to support the development.

A planning application for the project is expected to be lodged early in March, and a council decision probably in June.

HISTORY: Housing development on this site - once thought unlikely because of perceived flood risk - was proposed in 2013 and later added to the draft Adur Local Plan to help meet the Government's housing target. Initial proposals amended in 2015 after various concerns were raised. Government funding of 5.7m allocated in January for roadworks associated with the development.

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Free Wharf concessions "not enough"

Public pressure has resulted in a big reduction of proposed building heights at the Free Wharf site off Brighton Road, Shoreham. But there's concern that the changes don't go far enough.

Southern Housing Group (SHG) say that following public comments after their initial plans were published they have made several changes to their ideas for the former Minelco site.

The biggest change is that the maximum height proposed is now eight storeys - down from 14. The reduction has been welcomed but pressure will remain for further modification. The Shoreham Society has said three to five storeys would be far more appropriate.

More open space and lower density are also promised, with the number of housing units down from 550 to 483 - but still a lot more than the 400 originally indicated for the site.

Another area of serious concern is a reduction in the proportion of units classed as affordable housing, resulting in more strain on local infrastructure and services without sufficiently tackling the genuine housing shortage.

Shoreham Society chairman Gerard Rosenburg has urged that a sense of relief over concessions made in the revised plans should not cloud judgement about whether the development is now acceptable.

"The new proposal must be assessed anew, entirely on its own merits," he said. "Is it right for Shoreham?"

Click here to see an artist's impression of the revised proposal.

More information on SHG's plans for Free Wharf is on their website

HISTORY: Site earmarked for redevelopment in 2012. Morrisons announced plan for superstore on part of site in 2015, but backed out after a few months. Southern Housing Group bought site in late 2015 and proposed major housing and commercial redevelopment. More detailed proposals announced in May 2016, with revisions publicised in December 2016. Building heights remain a local concern, plus lower-than-recommended proportion of affordable housing.

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Revised Ropetackle extension approved

Adur Council has approved revised plans for extending Shoreham's Ropetackle area - including a controversial proposal for a higher building than previously indicated.

Permission has been granted for a block of flats to be given an extra storey, despite strong local concerns about tall buildings. 

The riverside area north of the railway line, to be called Ropetackle North, is to be developed by the Hyde Group with 120 new residential units - 60 houses and 60 flats.

The proportion of affordable housing has been left negotiable - a departure from normal planning procedures. The Shoreham Society wants to see a firm commitment to the recommended government minimum of 30 per cent before building permission is finalised.

Society committee member Gerry Thompson said: "In a highly desirable riverside setting such as this, all the rest of the dwellings will be seen as extremely attractive and valuable properties and will draw in people from outside Adur, thus adding to pressure on roads and infrastructure but doing nothing to alleviate the pressing local housing shortage.

"The question of sufficient affordable housing is a key issue often raised by residents and we are keen to represent these concerns in relation to this and other development sites - notably the Free Wharf (ex-Minelco) site."

A small hotel, a supermarket and a riverfront cafe were also initially proposed for Ropetackle North, plus shops and offices, together with new public open spaces and an improvement to the riverside footpath. But some of these features, including the hotel, are on hold until a later stage.

Although the Ropetackle extension was inevitable, the additional housing raises concern about pressure on local infrastructure and services, especially as other residential developments in the town are already bringing a huge increase in the local population.

The planning reference for seeing the application details on Adur Council's website is AWDM/1006/16.

HISTORY: Site earmarked some 10 years ago for redevelopment. Proposals by Hyde group outlined early 2016, modified Nov 2016 raising concerns about heights and potentially reduced affordable housing. Planning consent approved December 2016.

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New concerns over illuminated signs

Fresh concerns have arisen over proposals for brash internally-illuminated signs in Shoreham's town centre conservation area.

Residents, backed by the Shoreham Society, have objected to a proposal (planning ref AWDM/1563/16) for internally-lit coloured signs at the dental practice in Church House, East Street - in the heart of the conservation area and directly facing St Mary's church. It would look like this (click here).

Such signage is normally prohibited in sensitive conservation areas and residents are concerned that if this is waived for one premises the area could quickly be spoiled by a springing up of inappropriate gaudy bright coloured lighting.

Another application causing concern is for very large internally-lit fascia signs in Brighton Road (planning ref AWDM/1907/16) - not so close to the church but risking an unacceptable precedent for the conservation area.

Objections or other comments can be made to the council via its planning website page.

The society is calling for a crackdown by the planning authority to prevent such precedents being set. Previous representations achieved significant improvements to signage proposed for the Shoreham Centre and successfully achieved a switch-off of garish coloured lighting which was installed without planning consent at La Galleria in East Street.

The society is also urging Adur Council to establish firm design guidelines specifying what will and won't be allowed in conservation areas - a practice common in many other towns.

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Harbour plans updated

Proposals for the long-term development of Shoreham Harbour are being further developed.

The Shoreham Harbour Regeneration project is a joint initiative by local councils and the port authority. Large areas of the harbour are earmarked for extensive housing development and new commercial premises.

Details of the current consultation opportunities and latest updated proposals are available on this council website.

HISTORY: Joint Area Action Plan (JAAP) for harbour proposed in 2008 by Brighton, Adur and WSx councils and Port Auth. Development briefs published 2014, followed by various consultations (latest Jan 2017), technical studies etc. Publication of final JAAP submission expected 2017, followed by formal adoption 2017-2018.

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Local councils launch development website

Adur and Worthing Councils have launched a new website specifically to highlight development opportunities and proposals locally.

Aimed principally at developers and investors, the website contains information about existing and potential development sites throughout the Adur and Worthing areas

It also explains the councils' approach to meeting housing demand, attracting investment and encouraging business activity for economic generation.

The website is

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Shoreham housing proposals debated

Shoreham residents who were given a chance to air their views to decision-makers about local development proposals strongly urged that no housing blocks should be taller than St Mary's Church.

More than 300 people attended a public meeting called jointly by the Shoreham Society and the Shoreham Beach Residents' Association to debate whether the town is facing harmful over-development.

Public meeting
The meeting was in response to a number of recent outline development proposals which include high tower blocks and tightly-packed housing.

Some residents are alarmed by the height of the blocks permitted and now being built at the old ParcelForce site on Brighton Road, and even more concern was expressed about a proposal for a so-called “iconic” 14-storey building at the nearby Free Wharf site (since modified to eight storeys).

A reported doubling of the height of proposed flats at Ropetackle North has also caused local concern, and with major development on the cards at the old Civic Centre site and on open green-belt land west of the Saltings Roundabout, residents called for debate on where the town is going.

The crowded public meeting was chaired by Shoreham Society committee member Gerry Thompson, who said: "The Parcelforce site is already towering over existing buildings. A lot of people are determined that more than five storeys should not become a new norm for Shoreham."

Council officers warned, however, that housing targets imposed by the government made it very difficult to impose the restrictions that many residents wanted to see.

The Shoreham Society has warned that any height allowed for Free Wharf would act as a precedent for future developments. A society statement has said that three to four storeys would be appropriate.

There is also grave concern about housing density. The society has said very high densities are not needed to meet Adur's overall housing allocations, and would impose additional burden on Shoreham's already over-stretched infrastructure of roads and services.

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Beach residents take neighbourhood plan forward

Shoreham Beach residents are progressing draft policies for the proposed Shoreham Beach Neighbourhood Plan.

A consultation day held by the Shoreham Beach Neighbourhood Forum (SBNF) attracted about 200 residents who commented on the policies being developed.

Details were reported in a news release issued by the forum. Click here for the release.

More details of the forum's work are available on the SBNF website.

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Flood defence scheme plans on show

More information is being made available on plans for extensive riverside works to reduce the risk of flooding in Shoreham.

An information centre is open on weekday afternoons at Beach Green car park, with a liaison officer on hand to answer questions.

The Tidal Walls Flood Defence Scheme, proposed by the Environment Agency in partnership with the district and county councils, involves riverside walls, raised banks and many other features alongside the River Adur and the raising of some stretches of road.

Improved riverside walks and viewing areas are included as spin-off advantages as well as reducing flood risk at a time of rising sea levels.

While flood prevention measures are welcomed, owners of houseboats and riverside houses are worried about some details including greater public access which they say will increase their exposure to vandalism.

An even bigger long-term concern is a proposed shift of legal responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of the flood defences, which appears to be moving to individual riverside property owners.

A legal challenge to this is being investigated, attracting national interest because of the implications for flood defence schemes elsewhere. A crowd-funding appeal was launched by the Shoreham Beach Riparian Owners to pay for this important legal challenge. Click here for the appeal website.

More information on the project is on the Adur Tidal Walls website.

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Civic Centre redevelopment to progress?

Redevelopment of Shoreham's former Civic Centre site continues to be debated by councillors who want to see it stop costing money and start earning income.

The future of the site became uncertain after the collapse of talks between Adur Council and the developers it originally selected for transforming the area.

Demolition of the empty civic building to save ongoing upkeep costs, and the development of an office block on part of the site to secure income, are now being pursued, with talks continuing about a possible second phase involving housing and retail.

In the meantime the former council staff car park has been opened as a pay and display public car park.

HISTORY: Built in 1980 to provide Adur Council's HQ. As council services increasingly became joint operations with Worthing, it was recognised ADC didn't need so much office space. Last council staff moved out in 2016 to new extension of Shoreham Centre.

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Shoreham Society influence grows

The Shoreham Society is growing more effective at influencing local planning issues and development plans.

This was the message from chairman Gerard Rosenberg at the society's AGM. He said development companies, planning officers and local councillors were consulting the society at an earlier stage, allowing the society to influence outcomes.

"It means we can positively influence planning proposals, and this has resulted in some significant improvements to several projects."

Gerry Thompson of the society's town planning committee said a good example of this was a proposal at Lesser Foxholes. Developers had consulted the society about an intended housing scheme there and the society's response had resulted in the number of houses being reduced from seven to four, their positioning made less intrusive and the building done to a higher standard.

Gerard reported that the society had had a very active year and was building good working relationships with other local residents' groups. This would help tackle the challenges ahead, which were considerable given the number of major development schemes in the pipeline.

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Rival projects for cement works site vie for favour

Different development projects for the old cement works site north of Shoreham are vying for support as the time for decisions draws nearer.

The latest to reveal detailed proposals is called South Down Project, and includes 2,200 housing units. The amount of housing has caused local concern but its promoters claim it is gaining some official support and considerable commercial interest. Project website.

A scheme put forward in the Upper Beeding Neighbourhood Plan is thought to better meet the officially favoured approach so far. It includes an eco-friendly bunker-style holiday centre, hotel, conference facilities, performance areas, green energy projects and a very limited amount of housing. Project website.

A third proposal is believed to be in preparation but no details have been received.

The Shoreham Society is keen to see a sensitive and imaginative use of the site, but despite the claim of one project, the society is NOT a supporter of any specific proposal, and will not be in a position to express a preference until all the options are publicised.

The public consultation period is nearing completion and the South Downs National Park Authority will be soon be expected to finalise its Local Plan, which will determine which type of development is allowed to go ahead.

HISTORY: Cement works built in 1883. Expanded and developed through 20th Century until operation ceased in 1991. Cement company abandoned site, leaving two main buildings to become derelict, hazardous eyesores. Rest of site used for vehicle storage, workshops, etc. Various site proposals have been floated since the closure - including latest ones awaiting decisions by South Downs National Park Authority.

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Railway subway campaign continues

Pressure is being maintained on Southern Railway and Network Rail to make the Shoreham station subway easily accessible from the street, allowing non-railway-users to cross when the gates are closed.

The Shoreham Society has been trying for over two years to explore options with the rail companies, and there has been increasing dismay at the lack of progress.

Many people have expressed frustration at long waiting times at the crossing when barriers are down and have supported the idea of making the subway freely accessible to the general public.

Street access to the subway has been blocked since ticket gates were installed at the station to deter railway fare-dodgers.

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Award for Shoreham Centre extension

The extension and refurbishment of the Shoreham Centre in Pond Road has been awarded one of the coveted Shoreham Society conservation plaques.

To encourage an enlightened approach to planning, conservation and building design, the Shoreham Society presents plaques to projects which are judged to enhance the local built environment. The Shoreham Centre is the latest recipient.

Details of the award scheme and the Shoreham Centre plaque presentation are on the award scheme page.

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Praise continues for bridge design despite damage

The design of the Adur Ferry Bridge between Shoreham Beach and the town centre is still being widely praised, despite problems of damage to the glass ballustrade.

West Sussex County Council, which is responsible for the bridge and its maintenance, says investigations are continuing into the problem of glass panels being shattered, either through vandalism or technical imperfections.

But public reaction to the bridge design has remained very positive, and the Shoreham Society has been applauded for influencing important design improvements.

When the bridge was being planned the society provided the council with local feedback about design features that residents said they wanted. This was based on a survey conducted by the society among residents.

People who responded to the survey put a high priority on visibility from the bridge, weather protection, and the general look of the bridge, and the society duly forwarded this information, which the council's design team took into account when finalising the design.

Some local comment has tried to blame the society for the glass problems because it favoured see-through weather protection for bridge users, but the society was simply reflecting the strong preferences expressed in the residents' survey.

Although it provided that information, the society is not responsible for the specifications of the materials used, the investigations into breakages or the plans for future maintenance or vandalism protection.

The bridge design has continued to win official plaudits as well as local praise. A recent accolade was a national "community benefit" award by the Institute of Civil Engineers.

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Southlands housing scheme proceeds

Building work is under way for a housing estate on the site of the unoccupied main block of Southlands Hospital in Shoreham.

After studying details of the site layout and building designs, Adur Council's planning committee gave final approval and work has now started at the site.

Developer Taylor Wimpey bought the building and surrounding land and was given planning permission to build 106 homes there, including a mix of flats and houses.

Approval for the hospital's sell-off for housing was subject to an undertaking to provide 30% affordable housing. Other conditions included financial contributions of around 571,000 towards local infrastructure.

The NHS trust originally invited organisations to put forward proposals for using the site for health-related purposes, but the timescale for such proposals passed with no suitable projects emerging.

All in-patient facilities were transferred to Worthing Hospital, with the NHS retaining only the out-patient building fronting Hammy Lane, which the trust promises to keep and improve.

The latest development for this remaining part of the hospital is a major eye unit offering diagnosis, treatments and operations.

The decision to sell the main block for housing disappointed campaigners who wanted it kept for community health purposes.

HISTORY: Hospital Trust got planning permission in 2014 to demolish old main block and release the site for housing, following decision to stop inpatient services and concentrate on specialist day services. Wimpey group bought site in 2015 and demolition/construction proceeded in 2016. Completion expected 2017.

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Parcelforce redevelopment progressing

Work on the controversial project to build flats and a supermarket at the former Parcelforce site in Brighton Road, Shoreham, is well under way.

Work first began on the site a year ago but was paused by a technical licensing issue.  Then it re-started but stopped again, but has recently been progressing again.

Plans for 132 homes and a 1,200 sqm foodstore were approved in 2013 despite objections to the proposed building heights up to seven stories high.

The Shoreham Society was among a number of local groups and residents who formally objected to the application.

A chief concern is that the proposal represents over-development in an area already suffering from extreme pressure on infrastructure. There was particular opposition to the height of the development and the number of housing units.

A number of significant problems were recognised in the planning report which was considered by local councillors before their decision. Click here to see it.  The report referred to concerns about traffic, air pollution and other environmental issues, flood risk, sewage capacity and visual impact.

HISTORY: Planning consent approved in 2007 for a hotel, but that proposal didn't materialise. New application approved 2013 for current project of flats and retail. Construction delayed with stop-go activity. Completion expected 2017.

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Offshore wind farm construction progressing

Another phase of work to construct a proposed offshore wind farm off the local coast  is under way, with the turbine bases appearing eight miles (13km) offshore.

Work on land-based infrastructure is progressing, including the laying of underground cabling following a route through mostly agricultural land to the north of Shoreham. The entire £1.3bn project is due for completion in 2018.

After consultations, the project was scaled down last year to reduce the visual impact. The number of turbines was reduced from 175 to 116 and their height is down from 200m to 140m. The width of the wind farm as seen from the shore is also considerably reduced. The farm will provide enough power for 300,000 homes.

The revisions followed representations made by environmental groups who were concerned about the seascape, particularly the views from the South Downs national park.

A platform containing meteorological and other equipment has been visible for some time south of Shoreham Harbour, a large crane vessel is prominent on the horizen and now some of the turbine bases can be seen.

More information is on the website

HISTORY: Development consent for wind farm issued in 2014. Land-based infrastructure work carried out through 2015 and 2016. Offshore work undertaken from Jan 2016. Completion expected 2018.

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Pond Road prospects under review

The Shoreham Society is monitoring discussions - or lack of them - about redeveloping the Pond Road area in Shoreham.

Adur Council issued a brief long ago for the redevelopment of this key central area, envisaging retaining the existing community centre (now extended with council offices), building new public facilities including a health centre on the Burrscroft site, and replacing the existing health centre and library with housing.

Apart from the community centre, those proposals were mothballed because of the economic climate, but the prospect of redeveloping the area has occasionally been revisited.

Shoreham Society challenged the initial proposals on several grounds, including doubtful economic viability, poor use of space and inappropriate overall concept.

The society believes that any development should be in keeping with the site's position at the heart of the conservation area and adjacent to the heritage asset of St Mary's Church.

Remodelling of existing buildings is also strongly preferred by the society rather than demolition - principally because recovering the higher costs of rebuilding could result in excessively dense or high-rise development.

Society experts are monitoring the situation and seeking involvement in any new consultations.

HISTORY: Plans outlined in 2007 for new health centre and town square development. Put on hold after 2008 financial crisis. Still no firm proposals.

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