What’s happening around our town

RESIDENTS REJECT ARUN'S PROPOSED NEW PARK AT HOTHAMTON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

CONSULTATION

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.

LATER REACTION

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.

MEASUREMENTS

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.

February 2018

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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.