Adur District Council has just announced that it will support a plan to upgrade The Meads recreation ground using natural turf and significantly improved drainage.
It’s a result that the residents have been campaigning for – “keep the meads grass + improve the drainage” – for over two years. It has prevailed over a competing option of an artificial grass surface, surrounded by a 3-metre-high fence, which would have stopped the informal access that the public have always had outside of school hours.
It’s also a victory for “improving biodiversity, recognising the wildlife value of this important green space”, as ADC’s Executive Member for the Environment, Councillor Emma Evans, put it.
So, well done The Meads’ local residents for successfully making your voice heard! And thanks to Adur District Council for listening and doing the right thing.
ADC’s verdict follows a community consultation last December and January with the staff and parents at Swiss Gardens Primary School, allotment holders at The Meads Allotments and the general public.
We urged Shoreham Society members in our Winter 2020 edition of the Journal to take part in the consultation – because “having a local say” matters and, as this shows, really can make a difference.
The consultation gathered 429 responses through online video calls, an online survey and an in-person drop-in session. The 56-page report concluded that the preferred choice overall, by about 2 to 1, was for natural grass and new drainage rather than the fenced-off artificial grass option.
Understandably, staff and parents at the school sessions were much more in favour of an artificial grass pitch, but they accounted for only 8% of all the responses.
As Jenny Towler explained in the Journal article, “When a public space is altered specifically for the needs of the school, the public space becomes less public and more of a land grab…”.
The Shoreham Society welcomes the outcome because it will improve an important open space that has fallen into poor condition, and so preserve the last remaining park in central Shoreham for all to use and enjoy.
West Sussex County Council still need to give the final go-ahead for funding, but ADC have pledged to work with the school and the local community to draw up a plan to significantly enhance the entire area.
Thanks to Keep The Meads Grass for the images