DOZY’S RAMBLES: Diabolical decision to build flats at former stately home in Shoreham

Buckingham House
Buckingham House

It’s been quite easy to criticise decisions made by Adur District Council’s planning committee for decisions made over the past few years – I know what a difficult job it is as, until recently, I have been involved in much of the decision making.

One thing is for sure – you cannot please everyone and everyone will have an opinion.

I guess that in the 1970’s and 1980’s the planners were also faced with some difficult decisions, such as the design and build of the current, soon to be forgotten, Civic Centre, in Ham Road, plus the decision to allow a diabolical totally out-of-character block of flats to be built against the facade of a magnificent stately home that had been allowed to go to ruin, despite the Grade II listing granted in 1954 for the ‘old’ Buckingham House.

For those of you who are unaware, we did once have a magnificent, what was a stately home, right in the heart of Shoreham, immediately behind Buckingham Park (just past Norman Crescent).

I found it by mistake last year just by driving around the area and was totally shocked when I saw the house, and even more shocked when I looked at the back of it and saw the flats!

Buckingham park itself was part of the original grounds for the house.

For those who wonder exactly what the house looked like before, have a look at the West Sussex County Council’s website and check out Buckingham House.

The house was built in 1820 and built in classical style with a frontage that included a Nash portico (still there today).

In 1931 the owner of the house sold 38 acres of the park to Shoreham-by-Sea UDC.

Between 1912 and 1921 the first house fell into decline, and was then damaged by a fire, never to be restored.

In the 1980’s the internal part of the house was revamped as a garden for the use of the block of flats.

It is sad that no one had the foresight to rebuild the old house in its original style for the benefit of Adur.

I wonder just how difficult it was for the then planners to agree to such a sad decision.

I had great pleasure recently in attending a charity event that helps severely disabled youngsters, of school-leaving age, make themselves self sufficient for the life ahead of them in order to give them some sort of independent living.

I was deeply touched by their enthusiasm and determination to make a success of their lives despite being dealt terrible cards at birth.

One of the ways these youngsters have been taught to communicate is via the joy of music.

It’s just amazing how confident every single one of those I met faced their future life.

The small gathering of supporters were so touched by what they saw with these young men and women, plus the sheer enjoyment of a short concert given by them to show just how they had progressed after just three years at the Orpheus residential school, everyone present put their hands in their pockets and raise just over £100,000 to enable this amazing charity to keep going.

There were several top name celebrities present at the event and they were all equally generous, not just giving their time to be there, but by donating large sums of money as well.

The school takes very few students, several of which hail from Sussex.

On the topic of charity, on one of my TV shows recently I had, as a guest, the chairman of fundraising for the Cardiac Appeal for Worthing Hospital, where over one million pounds was raised purely from public donations.

This is the most wonderful achievement for us locally.

I am extremely grateful as I have been a patient in the unit twice now and my life was saved once there as well.

I am one of thousands who have been treated by the unit since it opened only a couple of years ago.

My big question is why has it taken public subscription to pay for this to happen? Why didn’t the government come forward and help?

The unit was obviously needed, as the numbers of patients has proven.

In Brighton, the Royal Alexandra Hospital, that is now based at the Royal Sussex, has been almost entirely funded by charitable donations. Why?

I know we hear that the NHS is severely under stress financially, but something has to be done.

We cannot all be responsible for donating to run what is a Government-run institution that we are paying for anyway via our taxes and NI contributions...