The site covers around 100 acres, and could be the home of a new eco-village called Erringham – an old Sussex name – if The South Down Project gets its way.
Apartment blocks of up to nine storeys would be built on the chalk shelves – but none would tower over the natural landscape. Of these homes – which would be designed by the buyer in a ‘self-build’ scheme – 40 per cent would be affordable.
A river would flow through the development, giving the eco-village a Venice-like feel. Only zero-carbon buses would run through the site, with cars left on the outskirts at a park and ride facility.
There would be office space, restaurants and shops, a visitor’s centre for the national park, an outdoor activities centre, and even a zipwire to travel from one end of the chalk pit to the other.
There are plans for a primary school, health centre and an auditorium.
Renewable energy and conserving wildlife and the landscape sits at the heart of the plan – developers want to enhance the landscape instead of concreting it over.
But where has this come from? The South Down Project began over a pint in the Piston Broke on Shoreham high street. A retired architect Christopher Harris, and two marketing men Ed Carr and Robin Brownsell, started to talk about the cement works, and what could be done with it. It turned into a hobby, but culminated into a full-scale design crafted over two years, working with Brighton firm LCE architects.
Mr Harris said: “Our ambition is to respectfully restore the site in a way that acknowledges its rich history, its context amongst the contours of the downs, and its proximity to the meandering river. All the architecture must be an extension of the surrounding downscape, in its shape, its colour and its feel. Essentially: it must be of it, not simply on it.”
Mr Carr said: “The Shoreham Cement Works has been an eyesore for decades, and most people think that something should be done to improve it. We are local people trying to make it happen.”
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