Opposition to Shoreham development over slipway issue

Tony Seaman, Brendan Whelan and Tom Smith from the Shoreham Slipways Group at Humphrey's Gap
Tony Seaman, Brendan Whelan and Tom Smith from the Shoreham Slipways Group at Humphrey's Gap

A campaign group has objected to a proposed riverside development in Shoreham because it said it misses a once-in-a-century opportunity to reopen a slipway.

The Shoreham Slipways Group said the redevelopment of the former Minelco site in Brighton Road would present an ideal opportunity to reopen the slipway at Humphrey’s Gap, which was filled in 50 years ago.

But developers of the £200million Freewharf development have said the provision of a slipway would ‘drastically reduce’ their ability to provide ‘new homes, public realm and other amenities’ at the site and have proposed to install an observation platform at Humphrey’s Gap instead.

Brendan Whelan, chairman of the Shoreham Slipways Group, said the group would oppose the plans until a slipway was either provided within the scheme or secured elsewhere on the River Adur through a financial contribution.

Mr Whelan believes a slipway at Humphrey’s Gap would ‘greatly benefit’ the community.

“Not only would a slipway allow owners of low cost watercraft to launch, have fun, fish, and take exercise, but such locations attract visitors who spend money in the local economy,” he said.

“There would be no major technical issue in providing a slipway at Humphrey’s Gap and if this opportunity is lost then the provision of a replacement slipway will be lost for at least a century.”

He said that Humphrey’s Gap is an appropriate location because it is downstream of the footbridge and has safe access from the A259 – though parking would need to be provided.

Mr Whelan added that both the Adur Local Plan and the Joint Area Action plan indicated that Shoreham was in need of more slipways.

But developers at Southern Housing Group said that, while plans for a slipways had been ‘carefully assessed’, it had been decided that the designs submitted to Adur District Council would ‘benefit more people’.

Jeremy Barkway, Director for Strategic Partnerships, said: “Throughout our extensive consultation it was clear that local residents do want to enjoy the riverfront and harbour as part of the Free Wharf scheme.

“To that end, our plans include new moorings for leisure boats, a public viewing platform and 300 meters of river frontage for pedestrians and cyclists.

“We carefully assessed plans for a slipway on the site.

“However, following extended discussions with local people, councillors and Tim Loughton MP, we believe that the submitted designs will benefit more people, including people using the harbour and estuary.

“Of course, Free Wharf is primarily designed to provide much needed housing, including affordable homes, and employment opportunities, in a landscaped setting with extensive public realm.

“Other slipway operators and council officers have explained that because slipways require a lot of extra space to accommodate vehicles and trailers, this would drastically reduce our ability to provide the new homes, public realm and other amenities that are at the heart of the Free Wharf proposition.

“We continue to work with the planning authority and other stakeholders ensuring Free Wharf benefits the whole area.”

For more information on plans for the site visit www.freewharf.info or click here to view the planning application in full.