Seaford Register of buildings of local historical, architectural or social interest

A public perspective

At the last count, Seaford and its environs had about 65 Listed Buildings and Monuments, but such a list can provide only a brief glimpse of the majority of the range of buildings and other structures which give the town its character and feeling.
Very often locally significant buildings are taken for granted, not noticed until they are threatened in some way: by redevelopment; by demolition; by alteration beyond recognition, or by dereliction and abandonment.  But once these buildings have gone or been changed, a part of the character of the town is lost, never to be regained.
But this is not to argue that nothing must change or that the townscape must be preserved at all costs.  Change can bring new life, and like most places Seaford has its fair share of the dreadful and nondescript buildings we could all live without. The skill is identifying what’s worth keeping!

The Seaford Register:  
Is a voluntary record of buildings which have been identified by local people as having some special meaning to the town.  It has no legal status and offers no special protection to the buildings recorded, but it is hoped that being on the Register might cause developers and town planners to think more carefully before agreeing to changes.  However, it should not be seen as a “NIMBY Charter”, but as a contribution to the ongoing debate about the shape of the town and striking the right balance between preserving the past and encouraging the future.

Lewes District Council Planning Department are in the process of developing “Local Lists” for the individual communities in the District, and it’s hoped the Seaford Register will contribute to the local consultation which informs that process in the town.  

What’s to be included on the Register? The use of the word “building” is in itself an issue.  It should be seen as shorthand for any structure, (or group of structures), or place which seems suitable for nomination, so it could include buildings, monuments, walls, open spaces, in effect anything of a permanent nature which influences the town.  But the character of a town isn’t just determined by its buildings, but by the people who have lived, worked and visited the town, and by the events which have taken place over the years. So, as well as being of architectural significance, the Register could include entries which are regarded by local people as being important, either because they have visual significance or because they have some association with people or events which have a part to play in the history or life of the town.

How does the Register work? 
The Register is supported and maintained by the Heritage Group of the Seaford Museum and Heritage Society.   The role of the Group is to receive nominations for registration and to collate information on the nominated buildings from its own extensive records and other sources where available. 
The Group may undertake new research on some of the nominated buildings, including archive research and making photographic records.  As with other Museum records, the Register is available for public inspection but it may be necessary to withhold access to sensitive information on occasions according to agreed guidelines.  Buildings will normally be added to the Register on nomination provided it appears to the Group that the nomination has been made in good faith and basic information has been provided. 

What about the property owners?
The owners and custodians of the nominated buildings are a potentially valuable source of information, for example from original property deeds and other information they hold. It’s hoped that owners will self-nominate, or be prepared to co-operate in the compilation of the Register entry for their property.
However, as it seems likely that the majority of the nominated buildings will be in private ownership, care will be taken to ensure the owners do not feel their privacy or security is being invaded and it is for this reason that the Group will reserve the right to withhold some information. 
The Group will also undertake to inform owners that their building has been nominated for inclusion on the Register.

Are the boundaries for nomination too loose?
It’s important to recognise that the purpose of the Register is to contribute to our knowledge and understanding of Seaford as it is now, has been in the past and will be in the future.  It’s not intended to be a part of the local town planning process and for that reason will run as an independent initiative alongside any Local List to be developed and maintained by Lewes District Council Planning Department.
Nor is the Register intended to be a statement of “good taste” about our local built environment: Seafordians are far too independent to be lectured on such matters of taste!

Who can nominate a building?
A simple nomination form provides the means by which any member of the public can nominate a building.  The nomination form seeks both the reasons for nomination and any background information supporting the nomination.  You can get a copy of the form from the Museum and it should be returned to: The Heritage Group, Seaford Museum, Martello Tower 74, PO Box 2132, The Esplanade, Seaford, BN25 9BH, or handed in at the Museum during normal opening hours.   A copy can be downloaded here.
(Please note there isn’t a letterbox at the Tower).  

In summary:
The Register is being compiled as a voluntary initiative to record buildings and structures which add to the character of Seaford. Entry on the Register will not offer any special protection to the buildings recorded. The information will be available for public enquiry alongside the other archival material held by the Museum.  Whilst the Heritage Group and the Museum will take all reasonable steps to check the validity of the information it receives, it cannot be responsible for the accuracy of the material submitted and held: it reserves the right to refuse to record any information it believes might be inappropriate.