Jennifer Ryan Senior Planning Officer
Jennifer is a Senior Planning Officer at Adur & Worthing Councils. She's been with the Planning Policy team since 2017 and works on a range of projects including preparation of the Worthing Local Plan which, when adopted, will guide future development in the borough.
Jennifer is excited to be blogging about her work and is keen to talk about how it links up with wider projects taking place within the Councils.
Before she joined the Planning Policy team, Jennifer worked in Planning Policy at Test Valley Borough Council for six years. Prior to that, she was a Teacher Associate at Oxford Brookes University.
Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys travelling and has a passion for architecture and design - London and Liverpool are her favourite cities. She also loves seeking inspiration from Instagram for her travels, particularly keeping an eye out for trendy cafes and restaurants to visit.
You can read Jennifer's current blog posts on this page below:
See also: Planning Policy
Harsh, bold, imposing blocky monolithic building structures ... what springs to mind ... 'concrete'?
I am a fan of Brutalist architecture, a style that is characterised by its rough, unfinished surfaces emphasising heavy materials and construction. It is an imposing expression of material and form - a stark and functionalist style of architecture.
Brutalism was a popular style that developed traction throughout the 1960s as the austerity of the 1950s gave way to dynamism and confidence in architectural styles in urban localities. The 'Barbican Estate' in London is an icon of Brutalist architecture and is acclaimed as one of the UK's architectural treasures.
The Barbican represents a radical and visionary post-war city redevelopment of 35 acres that was completely flattened in the Blitz. It was designed and built to provide rental accommodation for affluent city professionals which was owned and managed by the Corporation of the City of London. Architects anticipated the growth of consumer goods such as car ownership and thus designed the residential blocks so that lifts connected the flats to underground car-parking. The Estate integrated landscaping, a network of elevated walkways as well as providing the 'Barbican Centre' housing a cultural performing arts venue.
Throughout the 60s, Brutalism became synonymous with socially progressive housing that architects and town planners promoted as 'modern streets in the sky'. However, some brutalist high-rise buildings (referred to as Tower Blocks) later became associated with inner city decay, crime and social deprivation. Subsequently many brutalist buildings were demolished.
Today, there are divided opinions when it comes to Brutalism. Is it aesthetically ugly or is there beauty to be found within its design? The following quote from an article in the Guardian encapsulates some of the debates surrounding Brutalism:
“The qualities that attract people to concrete are the very same characteristics that have always repelled others. It is gritty, urban and uncompromising, it stands with a geological heft, forming soaring cliff-faces and plunging gullies, cave-like undercrofts and muscular flyovers. It is the material that most embodies the era of the welfare state, a time when the public sector-built housing, schools, hospitals and theatres on a majestic scale. It is the liquid rock of socialism, the stuff of emphatic nation-building and thrilling sculptural monuments to bygone ambitions. It is also the material most closely associated with the social problems that accompanied the decline in industry, lack of maintenance and inner city decay. It exudes optimism and generosity to some, violence and misery to others.”
However, Brutalism is experiencing a renaissance with certain buildings being regarded as architectural landmarks worthy of preservation. For example, The Barbican Estate was awarded Grade II listed status in 2001. This is an example of how an architect style which represented the socio-political context of its time is now seen as a site of special architectural and historic interest.
For further information see:
Photos of Barbican Estate, London
One of my favourite things to do when I am out and about in towns and cities is to look above the ground and observe the character and design of buildings. For some people, their passion may be to visit art galleries and to engage with paintings, whereas mine is to muse at architecture.
We are surrounded by buildings, they provide a variety of functions ranging from residential, offices, healthcare, education, leisure, culture and religion. In order to optimise the purpose and functionality of a building within a given space, the practice of architecture is applied to develop a design that focuses on the aesthetic and practical / technical aspects of the structure.
In some localities, other factors such as sustainability and climate resilience also need to be embedded in the design. For example, all new buildings in Japan are required to have an earthquake resistant structure.
Throughout history and the development of our towns and cities, architecture has set the tone for the built form character of the area. It represents how a place has been shaped by society, culture, political regimes (i.e communist style development), economic development, wealth and status and environmental factors. At its roots, architecture exists to create the physical environment in which people habit and live their lives, but it is also a part of our culture and impacts on how we engage with our physical surroundings and see the world in front of us.
Photo: Splashpoint Leisure Centre and Bayside Apartments, Worthing
Design and architecture is an evolutionary process that chimes in tandem with technological advances. As changes in society occur, so do buildings. The purpose of buildings change, new types of buildings appear as old ones become obsolete. Some existing buildings are adapted, extended and take on new functions. At its very core, society produces the demand for buildings, and in turn, the buildings help to fulfil the needs of society.
Sometimes a new development can seamlessly blend in with the existing landscape and townscape, other times, a development may come forward where the design is considered as being bold, innovative and thus provide a markedly different contrast to the existing urban fabric. Design can be a talking point, as how individuals perceive design can be very subjective. It reaches to our subconscious level and it can evoke many different emotional reactions in terms of how we engage with the space.
Over the next couple of weeks, I shall explore the theme of design further and look at how design is being used in different scenarios such as health and wellbeing, climate change and crime prevention.
Photo: Portsmouth Central Library, Portsmouth City Council and Guildhall
Photo: A mix of new and old buildings in Rotterman Quarter, Tallinn, Estonia
Now that the 'stay at home' message has been lifted, I have begun to resume walking sections of the 'Downs Link' which I first discovered last year. It has been a great feeling to be reunited with my walking boots, make a packed lunch and venture beyond the immediate locality.
For those that are not familiar with the Downs Link, this is a 37 mile (59km) shared route linking the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way. The Link follows a disused railway line that crosses the Surrey Hills, the Low Weald, the South Downs and the Coastal Plain.
The long-distance route links St Martha's Hill near Guildford to Shoreham-by-Sea on the south coast. The 'Hundred Years Railway' was built in the 1860s and allowed people living in the hustle and bustle of cities and towns to take day trips to the south coast. The Horsham to Guildford Direct and London Brighton South Coast Railway companies made this possible by building a railway on what is today known as the Downs Link.
The railways were instrumental to the development of seaside resorts (just picture those vintage railway posters). The railways enabled easy, cheap and fast access from industrial towns / cities to the coast and resulted in visitors arriving in their droves. Subsequently, piers, promenades, entertainment facilities, lidos, bandstands, beach huts (does this sound familiar? Yes, Worthing!) formed distinctive cultural features present at seaside resorts.
Our railways are an important rich cultural heritage, they helped to shape the growth of our seaside towns and visitor economy but equally, railways contributed to the growth of cities, by allowing the cheap transport of food, as well as bricks, slate and other building materials. From a planning perspective, it is incredible how the railway age influenced social-economic development.
However, after the first world war, the railways faced increasing competition from a growing road transport network and, after the second world war, the railways were in a poor state of repair and became nationalised as British Railways. Lord Beeching was tasked with looking at how to increase efficiency of the nationalised railway system. Subsequently the infamous Beeching Report - The Reshaping of the British Railways (1963) resulted in over 4,000 miles of railway lines to close in an attempt to stem British Railway losses and to concentrate resources on the core network routes. Ultimately, the 'Hundred Years Railway' closed down in the 1960s.
Today the Downs Link offers something for everyone - walkers, cyclists, pedestrians or riding a horse. The Link is largely traffic-free and mostly flat, therefore a relatively accessible route for wheelchair users and prams. There are a number of attractions that follow the route such as Southwater Country Park, Bramber Castle as well as an information centre (located in a railway carriage) of the history of the route at the former station at West Grinstead. The repurposed railway line also acts as a corridor for nature, with woods, rivers, streams and ponds featuring along the route.
For further information on the Downs Link, visit:
For a more detailed six stage route guide visit:
Well, the consultation deadline is almost upon us! It's hard to believe that eight weeks have passed since pressing the green button and launching the Submission Draft Worthing Local Plan.
There is still time to review and have your say - but do be prompt as the deadline closes at 5pm on Tuesday 23rd March 2021 - the clock is ticking!
Following close of consultation, the policy team will review all submitted comments before submitting the final Plan for independent examination in the coming months ahead.
Watch this space!
Head over to the Submission Draft Worthing Local Plan webpage to find out more. The closing date for comments is Tuesday 23rd March 2021 (5pm) so don't delay! Please do check out the guidance note (on the page below) to help inform your response - see:
I had Monday off on annual leave this week so I decided to pay a visit to Cissbury Ring. It has been on my list of things to see and do in West Sussex so I thought it was about time to explore!
For those that are not familiar with Cissbury Ring, this is an 84.2ha biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is famed as the most historic hill on the South Downs and boasts an impressive history spanning over 6,000 years dating back to the Iron Age. It is owned by the National Trust and is a designated Scheduled Ancient Monument for its Neolithic flint mine and Iron Age hillfort.
According to the National Trust, the Iron Age hill fort was constructed around 400BC and was used for defence for around 300 years. After 100BC the interior of the fort was used for agriculture with rectangular fields being marked out with earthwork banks and terraces.
There is archaeological evidence of a settlement at Cissbury during the later Roman period.
In Tudor times Cissbury formed part of an early-warning system of beacons that ran the length of the south coast. Watchers were able to monitor 78 miles of coastline from here.
Though recognised as having defensive capabilities several times since then, no actual military activity took place on the hill until the Second World War. A large anti-tank ditch was excavated around the entire hill in 1940 and anti-aircraft guns were positioned across the highest part of the ridge within the hill fort. Later in the war the north slope of Cissbury Hill was used in military exercises in preparation for the invasion of Europe. Observation dugouts were excavated within the rampart to accommodate machine-gun posts.
When I reached the top of the ring, I was rewarded with panoramic views of the South Downs to the north and, through the haze of the clouds and sunshine, I could just make out the skyline of Worthing - especially the construction of the Bayside apartments. I was pleasantly surprised to discover wild horses from the New Forest grazing as part of a conservation programme (equine landscape engineers) to clear scrub to facilitate the return of chalk grassland - one of the rarest habitats in the UK.
It is evident that Cissbury Ring is an archaeological haven with the National Trust providing information on historical archaeological explorations. This brings me to mention that National Planning Policy states that heritage assets (which includes Cissbury Ring due to being a Scheduled Ancient Monument) should be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance, so that they can be enjoyed for their contribution to the quality of life of this and future generations. Significance is defined as an asset's heritage interest and may be derived from both the asset and its setting.
If you are interested in finding out more about archaeology and the planning system then you may wish to view the Submission Draft Worthing Local Plan (consultation closes on 23rd March 2021) which contains two policies relating to the historic environment:
- Policy DM23: Strategic Approach to the Historic Environment
- Policy DM24: The Historic Environment
Further guidance can also be found in the Worthing's Conservation and Heritage Guide (2015) which is due to be updated in due course.
If you are interested in finding out other historic assets in West Sussex, West Sussex County Council (WSCC) maintains a Historic Environment Records (HER) which lists known historic assets - see:
Have you taken 5 minutes out to listen to our podcasts and relaxing soundscapes in out SpringForward series?
A leaflet landed on my doormat the other day informing me that the census is coming and to look out for an invitation pack in the post. This will be my first time completing the census survey so I am actually quite looking forward to it! I recall as a child in 2001 both my Grandma and Mum undertaking Census roles and the bright yellow census envelopes they would deliver.
The census survey takes place every ten years and counts every person and household in England and Wales. The purpose of the census is to gather vital information on socio-demographic statistics to help devise national and local policies as well as to plan and fund public services such as healthcare, education and transport.
Planners use census data to understand the social, economic, and demographic conditions in their communities and therefore the census is used to inform the preparation of planning policies in Local Plans as it provides useful statistical evidence. Planners are also statisticians and we have to have the ability to analyse and interpret a wide range of data but we also commission specialists consultants who can undertake forecast modelling projections.
For example, population and household projections are the starting point for planning for a whole range of strategies such as identifying housing and employment provision at the district / borough level. Providing housing is one of the most important aspects of the Local Plan and it is therefore vital that robust and reliable data is used.
So with this in mind, do look out for your census invitation pack as this helps to paint a picture of the nation and how we live! The population of England & Wales on Census Day, 27th March 2011, was 56,075,912. I wait in anticipation to see what the new population figure is on 21st March 2021.
For further information about Census 2021 visit:
We have almost reached the halfway point on the Submission Draft Worthing Local Plan consultation with just four weeks left to go!
You may be interested to hear that the Council has taken a visionary and new approach of including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) within the Plan.
The SDGs consist of 17 interconnected goals underpinned by targets designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The goals form part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is a call for action by all UN member states. It is considered that the UN SDGs will enhance the sustainability credentials of the Plan and thus will provide a more robust monitoring framework.
The UN SDGs are becoming increasingly recognised and adopted by numerous public, private and voluntary sector organisations, therefore working towards a common and shared consensus for sustainable development.
I would also like to shine a spotlight on 'Strategic Policy SP2: Climate Change' which is an overarching policy designed to ensure that the impacts of climate change are fully considered at an early stage to ensure that future development and associated infrastructure is future proofed and resilient to recover from extreme weather conditions.
The planning system is one of many tools that can be used to help minimise vulnerability to all sectors of the community. The way in which we shape new and existing development in Worthing can make a significant contribution to adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change through carbon reduction (decarbonisation) and sustainable design and construction. Green infrastructure will have a major role to play in this, helping to mitigate the impacts of high temperatures, reduce flood risk, and maintain / restore biodiversity.
If you haven't yet taken a look at the Plan, then please do have a flick through and have your say!
Head over to the Submission Draft Worthing Local Plan webpage to find out more. The closing date for comments is Tuesday 23rd March 2021 (5pm) so don't delay! Please do check out the guidance note (on the page below) to help inform your response - see:
On a clear night, I like to look up at the sky and admire the magical wonder of our solar system and make out star constellation patterns.
In urban environments around the world, cities and towns never sleep. The light bulb is one of the most transformative inventions that has enabled humans to function on a 24hr basis. There are no longer time limits governed by the fact it is dark, and as soon as dusk falls, the lights get switched on and we can continue with our daily activities.
The glare from street lamps, office buildings, outside concerts, floodlit stadiums / training grounds, hospitals and transport hubs illuminate our dark skies with satellite imagery at night picking up sky glow that delineates the shape of cities and towns.
For safety reasons, it is essential for good use of natural surveillance (natural and artificial light) which reduce perceived and actual crime. However, there needs to be a balance struck given that our dark skies are becoming increasingly bright, which reduces the contrast of stars or other celestial objects against the dark sky background. Light is a recognised source of pollution and according to the International Dark-Sky Association:
“light pollution is the presence of anthropogenic and artificial light in the night environment. It is exacerbated by excessive, misdirected or obtrusive use of light, but even carefully used light fundamentally alters natural conditions.”
So, why is excessive light a big deal?
Research has shown that widespread use of artificial light is not only impairing our view of the universe, it is also adversely affecting the nocturnal patterns of wildlife thus impacting the ability of ecosystems keeping in balance. It also disrupts our biochemical circadian rhythms, the body's internal clock that normally chimes with natural light levels. It also impacts on climate change as lighting is a form of energy and accounts for at least one-fourth of electricity consumption worldwide. Over-illumination is considered as energy wastage which is also a waste in cost.
If you are intrigued to find out how bad light pollution is in your local area then you can find out through this interactive map:
You can also get a bird's eye view of the lights in your town through the:
There are many things that can be done to curb light pollution and everyone can play a part in installing light pollution solutions (on the International Dark Sky Association website). For new development, artificial lighting needs to be considered when a development may increase levels of lighting, or would be sensitive to prevailing levels of artificial lighting. The Government has published light pollution National Planning Practice Guidance which provides advice on how to consider light within the Planning System.
The Adur Local Plan (2017) contains Policy 15: Quality of the Built Environment and Public Ream which states that:
“Lighting incorporated into developments should provide the minimum for public safety, be energy efficient, designed to illuminate the target only and avoid light pollution.”
Similarly, the Submission Draft Worthing Local Plan (currently out for consultation) proposes Policy DM5: Quality of the Built Environment which recognises the issue of light pollution. Do take a look at the Submission Draft Worthing Local Plan and see what you think!
Did you know that The South Downs National Park (SDNP) is an internationally Designated Dark Skies Reserve? The National Park is hosting an exciting online 'Dark Skies Festival' between the 12th to 28th February 2021 - see:
It is fair to say that it has been an intense couple of months and weeks getting ready to hit the green button to launch consultation on the 'Submission Draft Worthing Local Plan'. It is quite a milestone to reach this stage of the process especially more so during a pandemic with the Planning Policy team working remotely.
This is an exciting stage to reach as this is the final statutory consultation stage before we submit the Plan to the Government for independent examination. Since the start of the Local Plan-Making journey in 2016, we have undertaken two consultations as well bringing together and reviewing comprehensive evidence which have shaped the Plan that is in front of us today. We have incorporated illustrations of key landmarks drawn by a local artist Emma Bennett as well as applying graphic design which gives the Plan a vibrant look.
You may be aware that the Local Plan is a key document in shaping the future of Worthing over a 15 year period as it provides the strategy for growth, setting out what development will take place and where. When adopted, the new Plan will replace the borough's existing local planning policies and will be an important consideration in deciding planning applications.
The Plan builds on national guidance to provide for more specific local policies for Worthing to create a high quality environment. It has been a very difficult task to balance all the identified needs of Worthing's communities with the scarcity of land that we have within the borough. Some of the key elements of the new Plan are to:
- plan positively for growth and contribute to sustainable development
- balance development alongside protecting jobs, community facilities and valued open spaces
- embed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
- allocate 15 sites for development (6 on edge of town and 9 redevelopment sites within the existing built up area).
If you would like to find out more about the Submission Draft Worthing Local Plan, then head over to the following webpage where you can view the document in full or download a chapter that you are interested in. While the Local Plan takes centre stage, there are also important supporting documents and evidence base reports which all help to provide context to the policies and allocations contained in the Plan.
Within a specific remit, this 'Publication' stage provides all interested stakeholders with the opportunity to comment on the policy content of the Council's Plan. At this stage comments should only relate to whether you consider the Plan complies with legal requirements, including the duty to cooperate, and whether the document is sound. For further details please read our Guidance Note.
If you would like to comment, then there are a number of ways you can do this. You can:
- use the online e-form
- download a paper form
- by email
- or in writing
The consultation closes at 5pm on Tuesday 23rd March 2021.
Full details on the consultation, how to have your say and the Worthing Local Plan can be found at:
Need assistance? Get in touch:
Public Relations & Communications
Problem with this page?
Page last updated: 07 May 2021