The Shoreham Society regularly meets with other groups and organisations to better understand their priorities, exchange ideas and views, and look for common areas of collaboration and support. This includes meeting with Adur & Worthing Council, however, these meetings are different for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the Shoreham Society channels feedback to the council from its members and other organisations on priority concerns. We challenge the council, try to understand their constraints and look for opportunities to help progress issues. Secondly, we seek clarification on the improvements the council is making or plans to make. The council only shares information already in the public realm, but these meetings help us to target questions and seek out specific information, as well as understand how we can support initiatives that align with the five Shoreham Society themes.
Three members of the Shoreham Society Executive Committee met with members of Adur Planning team on March 3rd to discuss the Adur Local Plan Review – the review of the 2017 plan to extend it to 2037.
Why the Adur Local Plan is Important
The conversation initially centred on a map of the town, as the planning team explained the current boundaries and some of the key principles of a local plan. They explained the use of classifications and how it will become easier for businesses to change usage without planning permission – subject to the appropriate building regulations. For example, ‘Commercial, Business and Service’ use, Class E classification, which groups retail, restaurants, nurseries, offices and some industrial uses. This might make it easier to repurpose existing sites and reduce the time they are left unoccupied.
We also had a very fluid discussion about making the town centre more vibrant – including pedestrianising, bike racks, ‘Pond Road town square’ and the types of retail. This included concessions or stalls, where new retail ideas – those that compliment and don’t replace existing traders – could be tried out before then committing to more permanent premises.
Any discussion with the council about planning inevitably includes the new developments. We discussed the Western Harbour Arm development and the need to have retail in the vicinity to help spread the load that would otherwise be put on the town centre. How many more people can East Street cater for at peak times? Where would 1,000 or 2,000 people go? One society member voiced the idea of a footbridge over the railway to Dolphin Road, giving people from the Middle Road area pedestrian and cycle access to retail on Brighton Road and the river, and the those living along the river access to Middle Road Recreation Ground. We also discussed the idea of having a small railway station, or halt, in-between Shoreham and Southwick to serve the Western Harbour Arm community, or an entrance onto the platform at the easterly end (by the Focus Group building).
Who’s Responsible? It’s Confusing!
To a layperson – which includes members of the society’s executive committee – understanding which authority is responsible for what, and the constraints, is confusing. As an example, we discuss lots of ideas for the town centre, including more bike racks (allowing traders to put then in front of their business), improving the pavements, and putting up an electronic notice board at the bottom of East Street – all of which require permission from West Sussex County Council Highways. Having lots of ideas is the relatively easy part, evaluating and delivering them is often difficult.
We ended the meeting by encouraging the council to promote awareness of their improvements and get more people involved in the plan’s consultation. The Shoreham Society will continue to help keep you informed.