The Goring Gap
The idea is that there should be a little grass and trees between the villages along the south coast. Otherwise it gets to be a solid mass of buildings from Hastings to Portsmouth.
WSCC has been very succesful in preventing development in the Strategic Gaps; the areas of countryside which prevent towns and villages from merging. The first gaps where defined in the 1960s to protect the remaining areas of coastline at Ferring, Climping, Pagham, and Sompting. There are now 22 Gaps in West Sussex, for a total area of 22,285 hectares. Since 1970 only 1% of the defined land has been lost.
All the villages started off with these strategic gaps. And in every village, the builders are, all the time, encroaching.
What is in the picture
In our case the gap between Goring on the right, and Ferring on the left, started to be eroded when the Victorians built the railway line. The obvious next step was a road between Goring and Ferring to the south of the railway to avoid the two level-crossings. The road was followed by several hundred bungalows, only contained between the railway line and the Ilex Way, the spectacular line of trees across the middle of the picture.
Between Ilex Way and the sea are fields of corn. There were going to be houses here as part of the Goring Hall development and some roads were built. Good sense prevailed, and the houses at Goring stopped at the Plantation. Goring Hall is in the centre of the picture and is now a BUPA hospital, with the public playing fields to its left.
The dark area of trees running down to the sea is the Plantation. There used to be three coastguard cottages on the sea wall, pulled down in 1900. Now there is a shelter and toiletsat this point.
Threats to the Gap
The area used to be occupied by travellers about twice a year, causing considerable aggravation. Height restriction barriers have now been erected at the three entrances.
To the north of the railway up to the Littlehampton Road and Highdown are fields known locally as the cabbage patch. It is this area, the 39 acres between the Ferring Rife (river) and the railway, which Worthing Council have pencilled in as open for development. This has now been quashed, at least for the time being..
By the way, you can see in the picture, on the shore at the end of the Plantation, some work going on. This is a never-ending task to keep the sea defenses in adequate condition. The environment is constantly under threat on many fronts; it requires constant vigilance to protect our heritage.
As an example of this threat, off East Preston, and seen at very low tide are some ruins, thought to be a monastery. Don’t bother to paddle out; what you see is what there is!
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