ARUN DISTRICT COUNCIL ATTEMPTS TO FORCE RE-OPENING OF HIGH STREET
Regeneration proposals jeopardised because of insufficient car parking
Arun proposes "echelon" parking along Esplanade with eastbound one-way traffic to
allow space for it
Arun also proposes re-opening High Street for westbound traffic to allow this
Proposals rejected by WSCC which plans improvements to discourage 'drive-throughs'
In an extraordinary turn of events Arun District Council, following its public consultation
at the end of 2012, suddenly realised that its controversial regeneration plans for
Bognor Regis, which involved building on the town's two major car parks, would not
leave enough parking for the facilities they planned to build, let alone the rest
of the town.
Many in the town regarded this as a somewhat extraordinary oversight by the Council
and its partner, major developer St. Modwen, after some ten years of planning, consultation
and discussion. "What next?" a Bognor Regis Town Councillor was heard to say, "Will
they be forgetting to put the drains in?"
To solve this problem Arun proposed that the section of the Esplanade eastwards of
the Regis Centre should contain "echelon" parking so that a great many more cars
could be parked there, effectively substituting that part of the road for the lost
car parks. But there was not sufficient space for this with two-way traffic, so
Arun also proposed that the Esplanade should be made one-way, carrying eastbound
But in order to accommodate westbound traffic the proposal was also that the High
Street should be re-opened to allow this.
None of this went down well with Bognor Regis people, and over the course of several
meetings views were expressed that the echelon parking would be dangerous and that
it would be detrimental to the town to re-open the High Street to through traffic.
Arun did not carry out any consultation into any of this, and proceeded with the
proposal regardless of objections.
However, it was necessary for the proposal to be approved by West Sussex County Council,
as Highway Authority, and the matter came up for consideration at the Joint West
Arun Area Committee (JWAAC), which is a joint committee involving West Sussex, Arun
and Parish Councils.
After some vigorous discussion the vote on the matter was taken, and as the matter
related to Highways and was not in the remit of Arun, only the County Councillors
were permitted to vote. The result was that the three UKIP Councillors and one Lib-Dem
voted against the proposal, and the single Conservative in favour.
The proposal was therefore rejected in favour of a plan to improve the signage and
surfacing of the High Street to discourage the persistent invasion of the pedestrian
area by unauthorised vehicles. The Conservative Arun District Councillors were extremely
unhappy with this decision and maintained that the vote had not been taken correctly.
Some correspondence ensued between the two Councils, but we understand that it has
been decided that the decision was properly made.
Following this, there has been some suggestion by the Conservative Arun Councillors
that they will no longer participate in JWAAC, which the Mayor of Bognor Regis described
as "throwing the toys out of the pram". We await events with interest.