Views split on future of Shoreham town centre park

The future of a park in Shoreham town centre is under consultation – with people divided on how best to use the space.

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 6:42 pm
The Meads recreation ground in Shoreham

The Meads recreation ground is enjoyed by many local residents, with a fenced-off area used exclusively by Swiss Gardens Primary School on weekdays between 9am and 4pm.

Adur District Council, which owns the land, said this enclosed area was in a poor condition and has proposed several options for improving it.

These include creating a 3G artificial grass pitch with a new drainage system, which could be built with or without floodlighting, or installing natural improved turf grass, supported by a new drainage system.

The school favours a 3G pitch, but some local residents have protested that this would result in the loss of green space for the community.

Lawrence Caughlin, headteacher at Swiss Gardens Primary School, said the 3G pitch option – which would be paid for using contributions paid by the developers of Ropetackle North – would mean the pupils could use the space all year round and hold sports fixtures at the site.

He said the school had less outdoor space than any other school in Shoreham, adding: “It would certainly benefit the children.”

But Kirsten Wild, who lives in nearby Victoria Road, said installing a 3G pitch would mean locking the community out of half of the park outside of school hours, losing what was ‘basically the back garden for hundreds of families’.

Establishing a 3G pitch was a ‘short-sighted and expensive fix’ which would create an ‘environmental deadzone’, she said.

Kirsten, who is a member of the local action group Keep the Meads Grass, said: “A professional grass/ new drains solution is the only compassionate answer on the table, looking after both school and community needs and also giving kids access to nature during school hours which we know is hugely beneficial for their mental health.

“Plus grass is a sustainable and environmentally friendly way forward for our increasingly over-developed town.”

Meanwhile a spokesman for the Adur Green Party said all three options put forward for The Meads were flawed.

The 3G pitch would come ‘at the cost of loss of precious green space’, the spokesman said, adding that including floodlights would be ‘completely unacceptable on grounds of light pollution and lack of parking for evening users’.

However the group felt the option of relaying natural turf was ‘unimaginative’ and would not ensure the proper care and maintenance of the hard-wearing grass.

The spokesman said: “Adur Greens are urging all stakeholders to come together to work for the best possible future for the Meads, the green heart of Shoreham.

“Positions are polarised, many people have become entrenched and feelings are running very high.

“This section 106 money provides a fantastic chance to develop an imaginative scheme that meets the play space needs of the school and provides for informal community use during evenings, weekends and school holidays, into the long term.

“The council should look again at all options and start by bringing the stakeholders together in a constructive spirit, to develop this precious space for everyone”

A spokesperson for Adur and Worthing Councils said: “We are currently running a public consultation on ways in which we can improve the Meads Recreation Ground in Shoreham.

“This includes views on the future use of the enclosed area and options for improving the existing surface.

“Options for both natural and artificial grass to improve the existing surface are included in the consultation.

“Local residents are encouraged to submit their views.”

To have your say on the consultation, which closes on Sunday, by visiting www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/the-meads-consultation/