RESIDENTS REJECT ARUN'S PROPOSED NEW PARK AT HOTHAMTON
Consultants produce illustrations for consultation
Only 19 people say they like the proposals
Objections to loss of green space, parking, Health Centre
Arun accused of concealing intention to place 100 flats there
Late in 2017 and in pursuit of their regeneration intentions, Arun District Council
announced that they proposed to replace the existing Sunken Gardens and Hothamton
Car Park with a new layout.
Provisionally titled the "Linear Park" it will be seen from the illustration above
that this amounted to two long thin car parks with a green strip between, stretching
between Queensway and West Street.
It was suggested that this "could" allow all sorts of new uses, including cafe, entertainment
area, market square, water play area, mini amphitheatre, although how all these could
be accommodated on this space was not explained.
A low key, one day, "consultation" was held in October 2017, in which the above illustration
was used. A few residents, rather better informed than the rest, complained that
Arun had not made clear to those attending that along with all this came 100 flats
‒ and that the vague block in the above illustration could be assumed to be the existing
Health Centre. It was felt that this was misleading to the public.
Arun claimed that this consultation was "well attended", although they admitted that
this amounted to only about 200 people. Feedback forms were handed out, and later
enquiries revealed that only 19 people said they liked the proposals.
Considerable criticism of the scheme came from Town Councillors and representative
organisations, particularly of the fact that Arun had entirely failed to consult
with anybody in the town before embarking on this.
It was felt that the illustrations were misleading, particularly in making the green
area look larger than it will actually be. There was concern that there will be
fewer car parking spaces than existing, and that the proposals suggested the loss
of the Health Centre.
Also that most of the mature trees and shrubs of the existing Sunken Gardens will
be lost, and that there are inherent dangers to children from playing in an area
surrounded by a busy car park, not least from the pollution produced.
Further dangers were considered to be produced by two new junctions with Queensway
and West Street, opposite existing junctions, together with traffic conflict from
cars circulating, looking for a parking space.
There was also concern that the illustrations showed the emergency fire rescue slip
road adjacent to the Fitzleet tower block was to be removed, and in the light of
the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy this was inadvisable.
In response, Arun claimed that there would be more green and play space than before,
and that the illustrations were only concepts. "We've heard that sort of thing before,"
said Hugh Coster, Deputy Chairman of the Bognor Regis Civic Society, "and we don't
believe that you can take a finite area with parking and green space, plonk the footprint
of 100 flats on it and expect to retain the same parking and green space.
"So we measured the whole area with a long tape and it is quite clear that a large
area of green space will be lost. Arun will be leaving us with half-a-park."
However Arun continued to deny that green and play space will be lost, but did admit
that some parking spaces will be lost. How many remains to be seen.
Illustration used at Arun's consultation. Note the vague outline of the large block
on the left, which residents claimed confused people into thinking it was the existing
health centre. No mention was made by Arun that this represented 100 flats.