Work begins to make Sussex Yacht Club even better for disabled people

Left to right: Councillor Neil Parkin, leader of Adur District Council; James Humphrys, area director of the Environment Agency; Terry Kinch, commodore of Sussex Yacht Club; David Smith, Coast to Capital; Shaun Stirland, W Stirland Ltd; James Appleton, Adur District Council; Michael Estell, W Stirland Ltd. At the front is Patrick Souiljaert from Sussex Sailability. Picture: Kate Shemilt
Left to right: Councillor Neil Parkin, leader of Adur District Council; James Humphrys, area director of the Environment Agency; Terry Kinch, commodore of Sussex Yacht Club; David Smith, Coast to Capital; Shaun Stirland, W Stirland Ltd; James Appleton, Adur District Council; Michael Estell, W Stirland Ltd. At the front is Patrick Souiljaert from Sussex Sailability. Picture: Kate Shemilt

The transformation of a yacht club in Shoreham is sailing towards its final destination: to make it as accessible for disabled people as possible.

A ceremony was held on Monday to mark the beginning of construction work at Sussex Yacht Club in Brighton Road, which will see the creation of a new £4.2 million clubhouse and facilities by June, 2020.

The project, which has involved Adur District Council and the Environment Agency, will plug a gap in the current flood defences, add pavement to the south side of the A259 and help achieve the club’s aspirations of becoming the most disabled-friendly in the country.

Commodore Terry Kinch said: “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a new home for our sport and facilities designed from scratch to be accessible for all.

“Sussex Yacht Club has been at the heart of the community since 1892, and with our new facilities we plan to be here for at least the same time again.”

The project was sparked by flooding on December 6, 2013, which left the clubhouse, part of the A259 and surrounding homes and businesses under water.

A plan was drawn up by flood engineers to plug the gap in the £45 million tidal walls scheme by building defences along the waterfront, separating the club facilities from the water.

The yacht club is home to Sussex Sailability – a charity which allows disabled people to become sailors. The club’s governance argued that by separating the club from the water, it would make the charity untenable.

So they all went back to the drawing board – and after months of working together with the relevant authorities, a new plan was proposed.

Adur District Council will buy a strip of land to build a new flood wall, as well as pedestrian and cycling facilities along the south side of the A259, before demolishing the existing clubhouse.

With the money from the sale, the yacht club will build an accessible ramp to the new clubhouse, which will have disabled-friendly features such as an indoor training room, lowered counters and facilities that allow users to change independently and that also have heated walls.

Club member Patrick Souiljaert, who has cerebral palsy, said it would be ‘great for the future’ of the charity. He said: “When the new clubhouse is built, it will raise the profile of Sailability and what they offer.”