River Adur access improvement works further delayed - but yacht club remains 'committed' to project

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Works to improve access to the River Adur will still go ahead despite further delays to the project.

A project is being delivered by Adur District Council, West Sussex County Council, and the Environment Agency to construct a wall that will ‘defend properties’ from the River Adur.

The Sussex Yacht Club said the project has ‘faced a number of setbacks’ since it handed over land in 2021.

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Despite this, the club has ‘underlined its commitment’ to completing the project.

The River Adur, Shoreham-by-Sea. (Derek Martin/Sussex World)The River Adur, Shoreham-by-Sea. (Derek Martin/Sussex World)
The River Adur, Shoreham-by-Sea. (Derek Martin/Sussex World)

A spokesperson said: “As the home to disability sailing charity, Sailabilty, the Sussex Yacht Club is disappointed that delays to the start of the flood wall have prevented progress to the accessibility improvements since the completion of its new clubhouse and demolition of the previous one.

"But the club remains committed to supporting the improvement work, which will see a public footpath and cycle lane, as well improved disabled access to the riverside.”

Commodore Derek Copeman said the yacht club feels a ‘heavy weight of responsibility’ as custodians of this land, which has ‘played such a vital part in our town’s history;.

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He added: “So it is frustrating that these developments are yet to have started, for reasons outside of our control. We do, however, remain steadfast in our mission to offer a door-to-shore service where a disabled person can get from the front door of their home into our clubhouse independently.”

The yacht club said Adur District Council is ‘duty bound’ to construct gates into the flood wall that will ‘allow access points to the river.

It said the latest delay to work is a ‘result of a dispute over the location of public rights of way.

An Adur District Council spokesperson said: “We’re committed to helping protect homes and businesses in Shoreham that are at risk of flooding from the river.

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“We’re working with West Sussex County Council, Sussex Yacht Club and the Environment Agency on a project to build a wall up to 2.2 metres in height to defend dozens of properties from the overflowing River Adur during storms.

“However objections to the formal closure of a previously inaccessible public right of way that runs from Brighton Road to the shoreline, through the centre of the Sussex Yacht Club site, has delayed the scheme moving forward to date.

“Legally we would have to wait for a public inquiry to resolve those objections, which could take well over a year, so rather than delay the work further we plan to instead install a flood gate at the entrance to the right of way.

“We are currently amending our plans for the flood defences to include this gate, and will then go to Adur’s planning committee for approval. We want work on the flood defences to begin as soon as possible.”

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‘Without a resolution’, the yacht club said additional flood gates will need to be installed – ‘significantly increasing project costs’.

The yacht club has appealed to local historians to contribute research into the original location of the public rights of way for presentation to West Sussex County Council ‘in a bid to support a move forward’.

Mr Copeman added: “It is our priority to protect the heritage of this land, and ensure public access routes are safe and appropriately distanced from moving vehicles.

"We would like to thank those who have helped with local documentation and photography to support our own body of historical evidence. We are working with West Sussex Council and Adur District Council to find a resolution, and do what’s right for our local community to achieve a safe, accessible club and the much-needed reduction in flood risk to Shoreham.”

West Sussex County Council and the Environment Agency declined the opportunity to comment.