Cries of ‘rubbish’ and ‘absolutely shameful’ greeted Adur District Council’s decision to approve plans to demolish a beach-front toilet block and replace it with a cafe/restaurant complex.
The ageing loos, on Beach Green, were described as an eyesore at a meeting of the planning committee – but almost 300 people objected to the replacement, designed by Brighton-based Boxpark.
The new building will include a split level cafe-restaurant with a roof terrace, public toilets and community space for up to 90 people.
During the meeting, chairman Carol Albury twice had to call for quiet from the increasingly frustrated members of the public, who felt the engagement from Boxpark while the application was prepared had been ‘poor quality’.
While most people agreed the toilet block had to go, some felt the design was too large, did not look good and were worried about the noise from future customers.
The scheme does not include any parking, which led to questions about the impact on street parking in the area and also the accessibility of the site for people with mobility issues.
The fact that there had been no objections from the West Sussex highways team did not impress Joss Loader, Independent member for Marine, and chairman of the Shoreham Beach Residents’ Association.
She told the meeting that the county council had waited until a wet Monday after the schools had re-opened before holding a parking survey, adding: “Of course there was no parking issue that day.”
When it came to the crunch, though, the committee could come up with no valid planning reason to refuse the application and it was approved by four votes to two.
Stephen Chipp (Con, Southwick Green) said: “This development is going to bring in jobs, people, economics into this area and it’s whether you think that building is acceptable or not – and I personally think it is.”
After the meeting, Mrs Albury said: “While we understand some of the concerns raised by local residents around this proposal, it was agreed the creation of this landmark building would deliver huge benefits while regenerating a dilapidated toilet which has seen better days.”
She added that it was important that county council resurfaced the run-down shared pedestrian and cycle route to the south of the development.
Roger Wade, of Boxpark, said: “Our intention from the start has always been to create the best seafront cafe-restaurant in the UK. With planning approval granted we have now taken a large step forward to achieving that ambition.
“We now commit to working with the community to make sure we deliver on our promise.”
Brian Boggis, Adur District Council’s executive member for regeneration, added: “There is no doubt that Beach Green is a special place and, providing this new exciting venue is managed correctly, the Shoreham Beachbox can bring immense benefits to our area.
“This is Boxpark’s first venture outside of London. Bringing a company with their worldwide reputation for creating exciting places for people to eat and drink is a real vote of confidence in Adur.
“It shows that people want to invest in our communities to create more vibrant places for people to live, work and relax with their friends and family.”