Chanctonbury Morris Dancers   circa 1978King's Head

The King's Head was closed in March 1983 and demolished a few years later.

The area known as Ropetackle has lain semi-derelict ever since and now is ripe for a sensitive development.

A lot of ideas have been presented even as far as the Planning Committee of Adur District Council. They have all fallen down because they were not thought through as a financial proposal properly, and because Adur Council who owned most of the land, put a too high value on it.

The area between Little High Street and the Norfolk Bridge is the focal point of the High Street looking west. Although not technically within the New Shoreham Conservation Area, it is adjacent to it, and a sympathetic development is necessary. The choice of the buildings when viewed all along the High Street should be a challenge for an original architect. I do not think there is any necessity for a conservative style building
24 November 2002
Development Control
Planning & Policy Division
Adur District Council

Dear Sir,


Point One

The most serious representation is against the appearance and use of the the part of the Ropetackle Plan immediately facing the High Street and south of Little High Street.

The design and shape of the buildings is not of a sufficient standard befitting a site immediately adjacent to the Conservation Area. It is too ordinary, fails to make the best use of the space, lacks any imagination, and most importantly fails in the important point as a focal point of the High Street. I do not wish to impose any architectural limits on the design except that it should be in good taste (which it is not) and should contain at least an element of uniqueness (absence of is the main drawback) that makes the passer-by realise that he or she is in Shoreham-by-Sea, and not just an extension of the coastal urban sprawl. 

On use, this is the only space for offices remaining in Shoreham and that with the chronic local shortage of employment opportunities, this part of the development should be zoned for offices and community facilities. 

I would suggest a circular building set further back from the road. Circular because the curvature of the High Street means a variety of focal points depending where the observer is located. 

Point Two

Overall, the plan includes ultra high density housing (hardly a mixed development at all) which is not inimical to the style and quality of living space normally enjoyed by the residents of Shoreham. The Brighton & Hove Structure Plan states a maximum of 50 homes per hectare. The Ropetackle area covers 2.72 hectares, and not all this is allocated to housing as the Development Brief says mixed use (to which the Plan does not adhere to). However, even if the figure allocated for housing is 2.5 hectares, even at the maximum desired housing density the dwelling figure should be 125, not 177. It is much too high. Furthermore, this is very serious for the rest of the town, as it could set a precedent, encouraging unsuitable over dense housing in other parts of the town and Adur district.

Point Three

This is touched upon in the first two points. the Plan does not adhere to the Development Brief which calls for a mixed development. By any stretch of imagination this is a high density housing development with a cursory few offices added on to make a vain attempt to comply with the original Brief. 

Adur does not suffer from a shortage of housing land. What it does chronically lack is employment opportunities. The 1991 census indicates that about 85% of the working population of Adur work outside of the Adur district. Therefore, the criticism is of a large housing development without sufficient local jobs to match it, in an area which is suitable for offices and business use and with public transport links. The residents will work outside the area and as 65% + will use their motor vehicle to go to work it will exacerbate the rush hour traffic jams. 

Minor Points

The rather clumsy design has led to a lot of minor points that will be a source of irritation if this plan goes ahead.

These include:

Impractical access to the whole remaining feasible Public Hard (Public Right of Way) for vehicle drawn boats.

Inadequate cycle way and pedestrian provisions to the waterfront. UK Urban Cyclist discussion indicates this is a major bone of contention in urban design, the paths never being wide enough. In this case it is even worse because the path intrudes on the private space of the residents. The solution in Birmingham was to erect unsightly iron railings as an afterthought to give the residents their own space in front of their homes.

The Town Square is in the wrong place because of it s proximity to traffic, away from the waterfront and because it is open to the south-westerlies without any river frontage to make it pleasant in fine weather. 

Some of the houses are located too near the noisy viaduct and this area is more suited to business premises. 

The parking provision is unclear and may not be sufficient. Some parking will block access to the public hard for cars and trailers.

Overall Impression

Very ordinary high density housing which does not comply with the mixed use stated in the Development Brief. Does not confer public benefits as the removal of the Public Hard is a serious loss of an amenity. It seems not enough thought has been put into the plan and they have gone for the easy option, rather than going for the difficult choice of finding a business tenant for offices in a prime position. 
Business use would bring day time life to the town rather a dormitory area for transient residents who work elsewhere. 

Other Issues

When Tim Loughton MP asked what community facilities are need in Adur, I immediately responded about the lack of fully equipped presentation (university-style) theatre with terraced seating suitable for the 21st century. It could be used for educational presentations, business presentations (coupled with AGM facilities), art groups, films, theatre productions, and whatever the imagination and suitability allowed. It was envisaged as part of larger building that could operate as a separate module to keep the costs down. Security is important.
The valuable equipment is kept away from the public, like in a cinema or theatre. It is also suited to the whole floor of a circular building.

Where this is situated is important, and the existing Community Centre would be as good, if not a better venue. However, the Manager said they have no plans, or intentions, of building a modern facility. Speakers expect and they usually get modern facilities nowadays. It is important. Any speaker worth his salt is discouraged by the primitive facilities currently on offer in Adur. 


As I have been thinking about this for some 25 years, I did begin to draw up an alternative economically viable plan. However, Phil Dibsdale of SEEDA showed no inclination of taking any local ideas on board, so I did not mention this. As the Local Plan is soon coming up for review I did commence drawing up the plan and I may present this before 6 January 2003. (It is on the broken computer at present). 

The plan would rely on Ropetackle NOT going ahead in its present form. Public support could not be expected for any plan with housing densities as high as envisaged for Ropetackle. The result would be justified complaints at any plan, because of the precedent it would set. High density housing development is counterproductive to any decent improvement scheme even in the short term. Even worse, if there are no job opportunities to match the population increase. 

Yours faithfully

Andy Horton.
Adur Valley



Andy Horton 1999

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