BEACH GREEN DEVELOPMENT – PRESENTATION & Q&A - NOTES
SBNF Have Your Say day - 6 February, 2016
James Appleton: Head of Economic Growth, Adur & Worthing Councils
Corin Morton: CDMS Architects
Brian Wilson and John Williams: Wilbo's, the ADC preferred developer
and about 80 Shoreham Beach residents
Discussion facilitated by Mike Gibson, SBNF Neighbourhood Planning Adviser
James Appleton explained that the Beach Green toilet block (marked in red on the diagrams) is available on a lease for redevelopment and Adur & Worthing Council have identified a preferred developer (Brian Wilson who is in attendance today). They have instructed CDMS Architects to draw up some initial concepts for public consultation. The planning process for the site has not yet started; no lease has been agreed as it would be subject to planning consultation and development.
What is happening to the Beach Huts?
Nothing – they are outside the red area which is the development area.
Concern was expressed regarding the initial concept as part of the area has been designated a nature reserve since 2006 – it is not a seaside resort.
No one locally has been spoken to – it was confirmed that this was the start of the process and this presentation/discussion was the first consultation with the local community.
A representative of Friends of Shoreham Beach (FOSB) suggested that a community room be considered tying in with the education around the nature reserve.
Where is the capital coming from for the restaurant? What amount is a contribution to local funds? Reference was made to the building on Lancing Beach Green which was empty for a long time.
James reiterated that the details of the lease have not been negotiated yet. The council want to retain the freehold long term giving an annual revenue stream to the council - at this stage it is not known what this will be. The developer needs to understand the build costs which are not yet established. There is no lease currently but an outline business case which will be dependent on build/running costs. If planning consent is not granted the developer will walk away – he is working ‘at risk.’ It should be an asset - not an eyesore - which will be beneficial both to the council and the local community.
Is use of the entire green essential?
James confirmed that development is to be contained within the site marked red on the document. The developer has outlined some long term thoughts on adjacent areas of the green but this is land that is outside the area for which a lease is on offer.
Has due diligence been done on the financial background of the developer?
James responded that some months have been spent on due diligence and that this will continue. When any lease is signed the council will need to be 100% sure of the financial status of the developer as the land is being leased not sold so the council have an ongoing financial interest.
Brian stated they have made it clear to the council that at the point any plans are approved the money will be in the bank to cover the whole project.
If there is no development outside the red lined area will the development still be cost effective.
James responded that if there is nothing outside the red lined area the developer may take the business decision as to whether the investment should be made. James re-iterated that this is the start of the process. If the Neighbourhood Plan just allows development of the toilet block the developer will have to look at a cost vs return analysis and use this as a basis to decide whether to invest.
Is it true the restaurant wants to serve halal food?
Developer responded this was not the case although others noted it was stated in the consultation documents circulated.
Cllr Liza McKinney asked who the developer has spoken to at the council and whether they had seen the proposal documents?
James responded that the council’s estates team and resources team had been involved and seen the consultation documents, including Cllrs Dunn & Dollemore (both members of Adur Planning Committee).
Is this development aimed at residents or day trippers? The character of the beach must be retained ‘it is not Blackpool’.
James responded that this was an opportunity for the local community and the beach which does have lots of visitors. Any development would be primarily sustained by local people and those enjoying the coast. The developer will have to consider if this is enough footfall to sustain the proposal – would the local community alone be sufficient to sustain?
Has the developer done any other seaside developments before?
The developer responded that he had not done any similar developments in the UK but had done restaurants and hotels abroad in Turkey and Russia.
John Haffenden stated that there are a number of other restaurants/cafes close to the sea that don’t have other facilities and appear to be doing nicely. Perch at Lancing is continuously full with a queue outside. Perhaps more research could be done into potential footfall.
Developer stated these are just ideas and they are asking the local community to be involved.
The architect was introduced and stated he felt it was a positive site, a focal point with open space and the nature reserve which was a good opportunity. The ideas outside the red line are ideas to supplement the site for the community.
It was suggested that the community should approach this with a sense of optimism, that a wide demographic should be involved including the youth of the community.
Mike responded that as the plans unfold people should go on the website and look at them. He noted that from the household survey there was a preference for facilities for the very young and very old.
Joss Loader stated that the household survey focused heavily on provision for younger people and the protection of open spaces.
Is there any statutory requirement for the council to provide public toilets on the site?
James confirmed there was not.
The questioner responded that therefore the council could step away from maintaining the toilets as happened at Sea Lane Café and the Cemetery. These plans are a way of locking in to the continuance of public toilets.
Who is responsible for the derelict road and area there plans to upgrade it?
James responded it is part of a wider study and would require some external funding. The council are talking to Sustrans about it. Mike stated it could form part of the neighbourhood plan.
The importance of the public toilets was stressed and an individual stated that the local community got together around the millennium to remove the blot on the local landscape that they were then and involved children in the mosaic etc.
James raised the point that councils are closing public toilets and making local shops open their own toilet facilities to the public.
A point was raised that a community room could generate an income stream.
What are the proposals for The Old Fort?
The architect confirmed there were no proposals for The Old Fort as part of this development, it was mentioned as a design influence on the project, not in any other capacity. James followed up that the Friends of Shoreham Fort had secured funds for a feasibility study of the site.
The popularity of Perch was noted and a wish for a similar facility here. This would mean needing to keep the Beach Green car park.
How many developers approached the council prior to the decision to appoint Wilbo’s? The developer who is responsible for the Café at Littlehampton was mentioned.
James confirmed that the Littlehampton developer did not bid. The council had a shortlist of 3 from an initial offering of 5 or 6. Some on the shortlist were not detailed proposals – in the end the council had 2 worked up schemes. An analysis was then done of the two bids for the building only.
An individual asked to reinforce the idea that he didn’t think people were against the café and toilets but that they needed to fit in with the area.
Joss Loader asked what the council’s communications department were doing about raising awareness of the development (aside from the work of the SBNF and SBRA).
James responded that the council will work with developers and local groups, Joss stated the council should lead not assist with awareness as they have the funds and the statutory duty to consult. James stated the developer also has a statutory duty to consult as part of the planning application. The council would welcome input on consultation and how best to engage. The council will have place material on its website, liaise with local media and possibly have a dedicated web page.
John Haffenden re-iterated that SBNF only found out about this a matter of days ago and that a lot of work had been done to bring the information today for consultation. SBNF is keen to hear views expressed and Mike Whelan is working on this on the website.
The architect & developer agreed to stay and answer individual questions about the proposals.