Shoreham poplar: new plans to save tree agreed
Adur District Council called a special planning committee meeting on Monday, October 23, to decide on alternative plans for 159 homes on the old Adur Civic Centre site, eventually approving them unanimously.
Changes saw the poplar tree, in Brighton Road next to the Duke of Wellington pub kept, by redistributing a block of eight flats – that would have led to the tree being felled – to other parts of the development, with overall commercial space reduced as planned spaces overlapped the root protection area of the tree.
An additional storey will be added onto the apartment block facing Ham Road, to keep the number of homes the same.
Stairways and stairwells were amended to help with fire safety concerns, and seven social-rent homes are to be replaced with seven shared-ownership homes in order to satisfy guidelines from Homes England.
Council planning officers noted the whole development would still be classed as affordable housing due to Homes England’s.
Agents for the developer, Hyde Group, were asked by Labour councillor Jeremy Gardner if they would go ahead with previously approved plans, which included removing the tree, if these updated plans were refused.
The tree was occupied by protest group the Poplar Front for more than 250 days in 2022, after members felt the council and Hyde were not listening to residents.
Agents said their ‘preference’ was to ‘run’ with the updated plans, but were not sure, when put on the spot, whether they might revert to their previously approved plans.
Councillor Andy McGregor said it was ‘not a very fair question’ to the agents, stating the meeting was not about existing permission but current plans.
He said: “I think this application before us today shows a great deal of effort has been put in by the developers, by the designers and by officers.”
Mr Gardner thanked campaigners for getting the plans changed, adding: “I still don’t like the development. I think it’s overdevelopment in the area. This building will dwarf neighbouring buildings and I think that this is regrettable. I will still vote in favour because the alternative is not something we want to think about.”
He added he thought the council acted with ‘too much haste’ in approving previous plans. Council officers said there were things the council could have done better, but the application was ‘step forward’.
The Duke of Wellington and the council agreed a deed of easement to protect the pub from noise complaints by future residents of the development, after concerns it could be forced to close due to live music at the venue.
The council is also preparing a tree preservation order to give even greater protection to the poplar.
Councillor Steve Neocleous, Adur council’s cabinet member for regeneration and strategic planning, said: “Creating affordable and social housing for local people is a priority for us, and using brownfield sites such as the old civic centre plot means we can do this while protecting our beautiful green spaces.
“We’ve listened to local people throughout this process, and taken on board residents’ concerns. I’m pleased to say that we’ve been able to work with Hyde to create a solution that meets the housing needs of local people whilst saving this much-loved tree.”