Plans to re-open derelict waterways to provide easy access to a new settlement in rural Sussex have been unveiled today.
The route along the River Adur, from Shoreham to an inland harbour at Wineham, fell into disrepair 150 years ago. However, a London property company is now proposing to straighten and dredge 10 miles of the waterway to Shermanbury and to extend the route to the North by re-instating the old Baybridge Canal at West Grinstead.
Developers have been promoting a 10,000 home new settlement in Sussex for more than two years, but until now they have been unable to solve the problem of providing sustainable transport in a rural area. Last year Government Inspector, Geoff Salter said he had “significant concerns” about proposals to build a new market town in the county seven miles from the rail network. This was despite a range of innovative solutions previously put forward by the developers for an electric buggy transit scheme.
A spokeswoman for the property company, Anna Moorlute says the newly named ‘Freeman Inland Bound Shipping’ (FIBS) would not only solve the problem of transport but also address well documented flooding issues in the area;
“We have been reflecting on the Inspector’s comments,” she said “and we are very excited at the prospect of providing Sussex with such an important new transport network. Not so many years ago this was one of the busiest trade routes in the county and we would be delighted to be able to re-instate it for the benefit of the local community.
“Freeman Shipping would provide sustainable green energy transport for all the residents, in addition to leisure trips for visitors. The new town’s retail centre would be designed to embrace the area’s nautical heritage with quayside shops and restaurants rather like you can see at Canary Wharf.”
The proposals have been met with horror by environmental groups who say the plan would wipe-out river wildlife and have a devastating ecological impact.
“We are in the process of re-naturalising that section of the River Adur,” says River Trust Project Officer, Noah Whey. “This would destroy years of hard work and decimate the river ecology for miles around. This area has a particularly rich diversity of rare species which rely on the wetland meadows and marshes for survival.”
However, the property company claims that its plans are sympathetic to the existing river environment and has pledged to create purpose built wildlife pods to protect endangered species such as Water Voles, Crested Newts, Nightingales, Yarn Weavers and Barn Owls:
“When people move into new developments these days they don’t just want bare ground,” says Director Lord Justin Itfadosh, “they want trees, they want habitats – and they are interested in species. What we are proposing is an iconic WildDome linked to a series of HabiPods’ which would provide carefully created specialised habitats for all those rare species. This would not only protect them for the future generations but it would also enable people to witness wildlife in its natural environment close at hand.
“The ‘WildDome’ would be built something along the lines of the Eden Project which, as a member of the Eco-community Partnership, I was involved in from inception. The dome would house a perfectly balanced water world, connected to each of the ‘HabiPods’ by Perspex wildlife corridors suspended just above housing roof height. This design has never been tried before but we believe it would work very well and would really put our new market town on the map.”
Planners are hoping the new scheme would eventually lead to a major expansion of the Market Town’s new Sustainable Transport Solution revealed last year. A spokesman for the developer has confirmed that although both its radical transport and environmental proposals are at a very early stage, the company is hoping to apply for outline planning in the early part of 2016