Rumours of more than 2,000 homes at cement works labelled ‘fantasy’

The old Shoreham cement works at Upper Beeding SUS-150616-073157001

The old Shoreham cement works at Upper Beeding SUS-150616-073157001

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Amid rumours that plans to build more than 2,000 homes at the old Shoreham Cement Works are in the pipeline, the site owner reassured residents it is pure ‘fantasy’.

Speculation over the future of the site in Upper Beeding has been up for debate over the past year, following the emergence of potential plans, including a £200million resort.

But after rumours of a 2,500-home development came to light, the site’s owner, Steve Dudman, and Upper Beeding Parish Council shot down 
the idea.

Mr Dudman said there were currently two main stakeholders and any plans outside these are simply ‘fantasy’.

He added: “There are a number of organisations wanting to bring schemes forward for the cement works but none of them have either the current ownership or option rights and so any claims made by outside these two stakeholders are fantasy.”

Sean Teatum, of Upper Beeding Parish Council, said he had caught word of the 2,500 homes rumour, but confirmed the council would not support it.

In the summer of 2015, plans emerged by ZEDfactory for a 600-pod holiday resort, which was compared to the picturesque Hobbit village in Lord of the Rings.

The scheme came after the cement works was included in plans by the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) to create three major development sites.

Mr Teatum said things are now hotting up as the plan garners more support.

He said: “We as a community are still supporting the ZEDfactory proposals ‘Off Grid’ and are currently trying to arrange meetings with SDNPA and Hargreaves for them to meet the director of The Wescom Group who has now offered to back the proposals. So things are hotting up.”

Mr Dudman added there will be an announcement to make in June this year, 
but did not hint at what it would be.

He said any other rumours are ‘just pure speculation and rumour’.

The resort will include solar panels that will produce 1.5 megawatts of electricity.

It will also house 50 ‘earth sheltered homes’ built partially underground.

It was estimated the redevelopment could create 500 jobs when in operation and up to 700 jobs during construction.

Back in 2014, the parish council asked residents what they would like to see on the 118-acre site.

Proposals were being considered at the time as part of the neighbourhood plan and an open day was planned in August 2014 to give people the chance to find out more.

One option raised by the community was to build a South Downs Visitor Centre, which will include parks, a campsite, shops, cafe, hostel, stables and cycle centre.

The list also included a riverside hotel and leisure facilities with jetty; a sports centre; art gallery bringing local artists in to sell their painting and their artefacts; and limited affordable housing.

One option was to see it developed in a similar way to the futuristic botanical gardens, which were created on a similar site in Cornwall.

The giant industrial site closed as a cement works in 1991.

The site was purchased by Hargreaves in 1997, which is currently let to a number of businesses, employing up to 150 people.

Aggregate suppliers Dudman have first option on the site and are in discussions with the SDNPA and parish council to look at financially viable options.

ZEDfactory’s proposal is currently the most high profile plan that hit national news when plans were first revealed.

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