Taking a fresh perspective

When we think of Shoreham, most of us probably picture the streets and river around St Mary de Haura and along the High Street. It’s not surprising as that is what appears on most maps around the town and online. We are told it’s the historic heart of the town, and it is a charming place, with well-preserved historic buildings, heritage lampposts, sculptures, planters, seats and plaques with eateries, bars, public spaces and services to add to the charm.

But Shoreham-by-Sea is about so much more than the modern town centre, which occupies less than a tenth of the land area, was only founded 900 years ago and isn’t even where most of us spend our lives. Step outside New Shoreham and you encounter 3000 years of history, huge stretches of protected riverside and open country, and the places where we live. Yet it’s the town centre that seems to soak up most of the attention and resources.

Same as it ever was

Currently there’s a lot of interest and activism surrounding the ‘canyon’ of flats and housing emerging from the old industries along Brighton Road. The concern is not simply about less-than-inspiring architecture but about the lack of attention to infrastructure, facilities, public space and environmental impact. All the things that make nice places to live and work.

Sadly, there is nothing new about this in Adur. The same can be said about most of the urban expansion of the town over the last fifty years, with housing sprayed across the fields and hills with little or no concern for where people shop, park, eat, pray, go to school or reach any of these necessities without getting into a car. And all the charm simply evaporates when you head north or east from the town centre. No street furniture, limited signposting, no seating or litter bins, utilitarian bus stops and lampposts. Nowhere to eat and very few places to meet. Even the street trees vanish once you reach Upper Shoreham Road and Eastern Avenue. It’s as though we all live on the wrong side of the tracks.

We can do better than this

We need a fresh perspective. Shoreham is a wonderful place, stretching from the beach along the ever-changing river to the fresh air of the Downs and the bustle of the harbour entrance. It’s a gateway to mid-Sussex, spanning four Conservation Areas, the National Park and a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Who knew? The areas where we spend most of our lives seen ignored or overlooked when it comes to planning and services. Even our clubs, societies and leisure activities are largely focused on the town centre and immediate surroundings. Does the rest of the town exist just to service the centre and speed people in and out?

The Friends of Old Shoreham (FOldS) is a new group working to get Old Shoreham back on the map.

Old Shoreham is the oldest and largest part of Shoreham-by-Sea, stretching across Buckingham Park to the River and from the Swiss Cottage though the old village and up over the Downs. It includes the oldest buildings, routes and river crossings in the area, a nature reserve, protected wildlife habitats and the National Park. It is central to the story of our town.

St Nicolas church and the Toll Bridge

FOldS has given itself the challenge of trying to protect and improve this local heritage and environment through community action. We want to create a local heritage trail, make sure that residents know about the protected areas, improve the local environment for wildlife and people and start a debate about the place we want to live in.

We also want to work with local amenity societies and activists to expand their activity and projects in our part of Shoreham. We hope that the Shoreham Society and others can take similar thinking to all parts of this wonderful town.

Contact folds@oldshoreham.org for more information and to join the mailing list.

See the latest updates from FOldS on their web page.

Image courtesy of Adur District Council

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Last modified: May 22, 2024