Pond Road prospects revived with new study

Long-awaited redevelopment of the Pond Road area in Shoreham may have moved a step closer, with a new feasibility study under way and potential funding earmarked.

The Shoreham Society has monitored discussions - or lack of them - ever since Adur Council issued a brief more than 10 years ago for the redevelopment of this key central area.

The planning brief envisaged retaining the existing community centre (since extended with council offices), building new public facilities including a health centre on the Burrscroft care home 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 West Sussex County Council, which owns the Burrscroft site, has revived hopes for the area by proposing the use of capital funding which it believes may be available from a Government investment scheme.

A detailed feasibility study is under way and the council says it is on schedule for publication in January. Officers have obtained quotes for the demolition of Burrscroft, which they see as the project's first phase.

The Shoreham Society has always favoured creative redevelopment of the area but challenged the initial proposals on grounds including 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 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. Burrscroft closed in 2008. Redevelopment plans put on hold after 2008 financial crisis. Publication of new feasibility study expected in January 2019.

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Go-ahead for IKEA and New Monks Farm housing

Adur Council's planning committee has approved the highly controversial plans for an IKEA store and 600 homes at the New Monks Farm area to the north-west of Shoreham Airport, despite strong opposition from many local residents and organisations.

Campaigners against the proposals had prepared a detailed 16-page dossier covering a wide range of issues that they wanted councillors to consider.

Pressure group Adur Residents Environmental Action (AREA), which is supported by several local organisations including the Shoreham Society, had looked in depth at the implications of the proposed development, particularly the giant IKEA store, and produced a booklet detailing concerns over multiple issues. They included air pollution, traffic congestion, flood risk, utility capacity and environmental damage.

The booklet, in pdf form, can be viewed by clicking here.

The application and numerous associated documents can be viewed on the council's planning website (click here), using the reference AWDM/0961/17.

As well as the extensive housing (allowed for in the Adur Local Plan despite concerns about the impact on local infrastructure), the proposals include a new primary school, business and commercial premises in addition to the IKEA store, plus a 24-hectare country park which was added in response to concerns over loss of open space.

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

Councillors also approved another controversial plan in that area - a large industrial development in the north-east corner of the airport.

The proposal is for buildings 25,000 square metres in area and 14 metres high, to be used for "storage and distribution". The usage description caused alarm that it could have a major impact with high volumes of lorry and delivery van traffic.

With the A27 and A259 already suffering heavy congestion and frequent gridlock, and local air pollution levels already dangerously high, a major road distribution centre generating high volumes of commercial traffic was bound to be a major concern.

Opposition was strong, including a holding objection by the powerful South Downs National Park Authority, which feared it could create major environmental and traffic problems and significantly damage the area and the Downs national park overlooking it.

The Shoreham Society urged that the likely impact on traffic, road congestion and air pollution should be a main deciding factor for councillors.

The planning application and associated documents can be viewed at the council's planning website (click here), quoting planning reference AWDM/1093/17.

Councillors approved both applications after a long, packed and frequently very heated public meeting at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy.

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Objections raised to council's social housing proposal

Adur council has revealed details of the first council housing to be proposed for the district in more than 30 years - but there are claims that the planning application is being pushed through with its true impact misrepresented.

Under the trading name Adur Homes, the council is proposing to redevelop the run-down Cecil Norris House in Ravens Road, Shoreham, to provide 15 homes to be available at discounted rents for people on the local housing register.

It is intended to be the start of a continuing programme to address the serious shortfall in local social housing.

At a public consultation session at The Shoreham Centre, Adur Homes said this was the first of a number of projects aimed at creating well-designed, sustainable homes on council-owned land. They have several sites earmarked across the district and Ravens Road is the first such site.

Although the general idea of council-provided affordable housing is widely supported, the detail of what is proposed has been criticised, with claims that the consultation has misrepresented the real impact of what is proposed.

There has been widespread surprise that the Ravens Road proposal does not include any car parking except two bays for disabled drivers. The council's view that there is sufficient roadside parking in the area has been met with disbelief.

Local residents close to the site have also strongly objected to the design and layout of the proposal, which they say will severely limit daylight to their homes and infringe their privacy ... impacts which they say have been deliberately underplayed by the architects and their PR company.

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Controversial Brighton Road flats proposal revised

Plans for tall blocks of flats off Brighton Road, Shoreham, have been revised following strong opposition by local residents and organisations. Blocks up to 10 storeys high were proposed for the Howard Kent site just west of the lifeboat station, but developers are now proposing a smaller-scale project.

Among the formal objectors to the original proposal was Shoreham Port, opposing the development on the grounds of risk for shipping.

The developers, represented by Liam Russell Architects, presented their alternative, smaller-scale options for public comment at a public meeting.

The new proposal is for 24 houses and 24 flats (illustrated below). It's a big reduction from the earlier plan for 135 flats, although concern has been expressed about the lack of affordable housing in the new site plan.

Howard Kent site proposal

Controversy over this proposal followed hot on the heels of Adur Council's approval of plans for 540 flats in towers up to nine storeys at Free Wharf, the former Minelco site. (artist's impression below)

Free Wharf impression

The council's planning committee approved the application, subject to infrastructure arrangements, despite receiving numerous objections, and members of the public and opposition councillors were dismayed and angered when Conservative councillor Carol Albury, who chaired the meeting, curtailed this controversial item and allowed no further discussion.

A disclosure that 10m of government 'regeneration' money has been potentially earmarked for Free Wharf has prompted accusations that the planning consent was unduly influenced by a desire not to jeopardise this funding.

Approval of the application is seen as a clear precedent for other high-rise proposals currently in the pipeline for Brighton Road.

Concerns have also been raised about proposals for the Kingston Wharf site west of the harbour entrance. Residents attending public exhibitions of the plans said they were alarmed at the height and visual dominance of proposed blocks.

The proposal was originally for around 200 homes in blocks up to nine storeys high. This was later reduced to seven - still as tall as the controversial development on the old Parcelforce site further along Brighton Road, which many people say is too high.

The Shoreham Society has argued that a maximum of five storeys would be far more appropriate for all of the Brighton Road sites, and certainly no more than seven within the deeper sites away from the road and the river. The society has also expressed concern about the total number of flats proposed and the likely impact on local infrastructure, and strongly opposes any reduction in the proportion of affordable housing.

The high proportion of flats for sale at market value, limited number and affordability of so-called affordable housing, and lack real social housing, are also seen as signs of the developments being driven too much by profit-motive rather than meeting genuine housing need.

However it is also recognised that tall blocks of flats on brownfield sites, while unwelcome to neighbours, allow housing targets to be met without unduly encroaching on local open spaces.

HISTORY: Brighton Road sites earmarked for redevelopment in 2012 and included in the Adur Local Plan and the Shoreham Harbour Joint Action Plan. Local residents and organisations have consistently raised big concerns about building heights and strain on local infrastructure. Free Wharf planning application approved January 2018.

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Initiatives launched for trees and open spaces

Two initiatives have been launched by the Shoreham Society for making the town greener and more attractive.

"Shoreham-by-Trees" is an extension of an idea from Rosslyn Road residents who recently planted nine new young trees in their road. The Shoreham Society thinks this could also be done in other parts of the town.

Alongside this is a project to beautify some of the unloved public spaces in the Shoreham area. It's been dubbed SOS (Shoreham Open Spaces) by society member Denise Binks, who has identified at least six spaces where volunteers could plant flowers, herbs and shrubs and which would need limited tending.

Encouraging support was expressed at a meeting to launch these two projects, and the society is hoping to promote the schemes and encourage residents' participation throughout the town.

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Long-term harbour plans submitted

Finalised proposals for the long-term development of Shoreham Harbour have been submitted for Government approval.

The Shoreham Harbour Joint Action Plan 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 final proposals are available on this council website. They are also available for inspection at Adur Council offices and Shoreham Library.

As expected from earlier drafts, the plan allows for extensive development throughout the harbour. In the western arm alone (from Kingston beach to the Shoreham footbridge), a minimum of 1,100 dwellings are proposed. They will be mostly in blocks of flats, with a few housing terraces.

For blocks of flats fronting Brighton Road or the river, a height of up to five storeys is suggested, but with more storeys allowed within deeper sites.

Less controversially, public access and amenities along the waterfront are encouraged, together with waterside cycle and pedestrian routes from Shoreham to Kingston, plus improved cycling facilities along the A259.

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, technical studies etc. Final JAAP submitted for formal adoption May 2018. Approval expected this year.

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Shoreham Society's influence grows

The Shoreham Society's influence is increasingly effective. Members attending the AGM heard that membership is rising steadily - now well over 500 - and the society's representations on local planning issues were making a significant difference.

Chairman Gerard Rosenberg said: "We have been effective in influencing several proposed developments - particularly with regard to building heights and aspects of design."

Closer networking with other local organisations had also heightened the effectiveness of campaigns to protect and improve the local environment, he said. For example, supporting the formation and activities of the Adur Residents' Environmental Action group had greatly increased public awareness of alarming levels of air pollution locally and concern over the related health implications of major developments.

He said that although membership of the society was rising, there was a need to attract new blood to the committee - particularly younger residents. New ways of working were being explored to make it easier for young residents with busy work and family commitments to become actively engaged with the society's work for their town.

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Adur Local Plan approved despite concerns

Adur's blueprint for future planning, including provision for some 3,700 new homes by 2031, has been approved by the local council.

A move, strongly supported by the Shoreham Society, to change the wording from "minimum" when referring to housing numbers at several sites, was lost, which effectively means the numbers of housing units could soar.

The society, which submitted detailed comments during the consultation period, welcomed the news that no new sites have been added to those already in the draft plan. This should mean 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 block as these sites are not in the plan. (... although councillors have already dithered over the flyover site, having delayed a decision despite their officers recommending refusal).

The society has also welcomed an indication that nationally-recommended proportions of affordable housing will be expected in development plans.

Although the 3,700 housing target is significantly lower than previous Government targets, such rate of development is inevitably controversial.

Tension between meeting housing demand and limiting harmful overdevelopment is a key issue. There has been much 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 also remain about traffic congestion and resultant air pollution, and also flood risk and strain on local services.

The adopted Adur Local Plan and associated documents are available at this council website.

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 held during summer 2017. Inspector largely endorsed the plan with few modifications. Adur Council agreed the finalised Local Plan in December 2017.

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Alarm grows over traffic and pollution

Deepening concerns are being voiced over relentless local increases in traffic congestion and its resultant air pollution.

A local environmental group supported by the Shoreham Society is calling for urgent action and planning strategies to improve Shoreham's air quality. With pollution soaring from increased traffic as more local housing is built, Adur Residents Environmental Action (AREA) has said Adur Council must hold developers to account in terms of their duty to mitigate environmental harm when building new housing developments.

In the meantime a Shoreham Area Sustainable Transport Study is continuing to explore how to achieve smarter traffic and transport management as the local population increases. The study is focusing on improving cycle and pedestrian facilities, encouraging best use of roads and achieving sustainable transport infrastructure.

The Shoreham Society and AREA attended the latest meeting of the Shoreham Area Sustainable Transport Study and pressed for greater emphasis on environmental considerations in transport planning.

An increasing view is that trying to accommodate more traffic by building new roads, improving junctions and changing traffic flows are mis-directed when a far more creative and wide-ranging approach is required, with much smarter solutions such as integrated transport systems and strategies for social change to reduce vehicle usage.

More information about the campaign group AREA is available on their website (click here).

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Affordable housing minimum urged

The Shoreham Society has called 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 to either reduce the affordable quota or increase the overall density by packing more units into the site.

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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Half-way stage for flood defence project

Shoreham's tidal walls flood defence project - to protect the town from high tides in the River Adur as sea levels rise - is over 50% completed and on schedule.

The Environment Agency and its contractors say the project is progressing well and on course for completion by the original target date of December 2018.

Disruption to riverside footpaths has been kept to a minimum but there have been some frustrating delays outside the control of the contractors.

Information about the tidal walls project, including footpath closures, is available on this website.

Regular updates are posted on the project's Facebook page.

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Mixed reactions to Beach Green proposals

Proposals for developing the site which includes the old toilet block on Beach Green, Shoreham Beach, have been met with mixed reactions.

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 and incorporating a cafe such as Fatboy Slim's Big Beach Cafe in Hove Lagoon.

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

While some residents have welcomed the prospect of the old block being redeveloped, others are alarmed at the scale of the new proposal, saying it is out of proportion for the area, and some are critical of the box-like design.

They want to see a smaller-scale development on similar lines to the popular Perch cafe on Lancing beach.

Local architect and former Shoreham Society committee member Chris Harris is hoping to influence the design and has suggested that the developers could consider an alternative style with a curved roof and more open aspect. His sketch below shows his idea from the south:

Beach Green alternative design

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. New proposal put forward by Big Beach partnership in 2017, but planning application delayed.

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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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Ham Road offices being built against neighbours' wishes

An office block on the site of the former Shoreham Civic Centre car park in Ham Road is being built despite opposition from residents of Gordon Road.

It will provide 2,300 square meters of floorspace for a hi-tech business, supporting around 200 jobs.

The residents say the block will deprive them of light and privacy. They also listed a range of other grounds for concern, but Adur Council's planning committee voted by a small majority to approve the plan.

Meanwhile, preparations are under way for the redevelopment of main Civic Centre site on the south side of Ham Road. New housing and retail premises are planned. Talks between Adur Council and the developers originally selected for transforming the area broke down and the council is working to get the project back on track.

HISTORY: Civic Centre 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. Departments started relocating in 2013, and last council staff moved out in 2016 to new extension of Shoreham Centre.

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Revised Ropetackle extension under way

The riverside area north of the railway line, to be called Ropetackle North, is being prepared for development 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."

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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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.

Direct access to the subway from the street was removed in 1987.

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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 2018.

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