LONDON ROAD SHOPPING PRECINCT PROPOSALS CRITICISED
Major alterations planned by Arun District Council to the London Road shopping precinct,
work planned to start January 2014
October Civic Society meeting highlights that no finished plan yet exists and asks
members' opinions on previous sketches
Members and public label the proposals "dull" and "like a cemetery"
In March 2013 Arun District Council unveiled sketches and illustrations of public
realm improvements for the area stretching from the Station down London Road and
York Road to the sea. This involved major changes to the paving and street furniture.
These were displayed to the public and more than 200 people attended and responded
to a questionnaire. Arun states that more than 90% approved the proposals.
Funding has not yet been secured for the whole of these proposals, but is in place
for the section of London Road stretching from its junction with Bedford Street southwards
to the junction with the High Street. A substantial portion of this is from the
Sainsbury's Section 106 money, and some from the WSCC "Kick-Start" funding. The whole
London Road section will cost some £600,000.
At the October meeting of the Bognor Regis Civic Society, members were shown the
illustrations of just the London Road section as used by Arun in March. They were
told that this was all that was available as the Society had been told that the plans
had not yet been completed.
However, it was possible to gain a good idea of what was to be done, as only minor
changes would be made to the illustrated design as shown (above). The only differences
are that the red stripe will be slightly offset to the west and the paving will be
grey granite and not beige as shown. We have subsequently learned that this section
will contain 7 deciduous trees, 7 seats, 7 concrete cubes, 12 lampposts and bicycle
racks each end. There is no indication that there will be any facilities for planting
There was considerable criticism of the appearance of the scheme, being labelled
as "uninspired", "dull" and "looks like a cemetery". Many felt there was a lack
of colour and that the flower planters should be retained. Others were concerned
that the majority of the paving was grey, and that a seaside town should have something
much more cheerful.
Arun District Council Leader Gillian Brown subsequently said: "This is a fantastic
scheme that will enhance and improve London Road shopping along the precinct. I
am delighted it will soon be under way".
Others are not so delighted and there has been considerable discussion of the issue
in the town and on local Facebook pages. These have shown other examples of more
colourful paving, mostly from the Mediterranean, (right) and many are now asking
why a re-design and further consultation should not take place.
22nd October, 2013.
Update 29th August 2014. The work to the London Road pedestrian precinct was supposed
to be completed, according to the signs that were displayed, by May 31st. The paving
work appears to be complete and most of the other components are in place, but Cllr.
Mrs. Brown, in the face of criticisms that the new paving is stained and dirty, has
said that the final work will be "cleaning and sealing". This has not happened, and
the only information to hand is that this will be done "in the next two weeks".
This is relevant because the paving which was supposed to be grey and was shown in
their consultation pictures (top) as beige, has turned out to be a dazzling white.
Many have complained about the excessive brightness of this in sunny conditions
and there has been one report of an epileptic fit. Also, the red strip has turned
out to be a rather insipid pinky brown, after a sudden post-commencement change to
the specification was announced without consulting anybody, not even the Councillors.
The result is that the dazzling white shows every mark and stain loud and clear,
and there are a great many already, making the whole thing look a bit tawdry from
the outset. Certain experts claim that full cleaning will not be possible, in spite
of Mrs. Brown's remarks, and the suggestion from Arun is that the "sealing" will
prevent any further stains. Even the chewing gum? We will see.
Questions remain as to whether this operation was worth £600,000, whether it actually
represents an improvement at all, and most particularly whether it fulfils its stated
objective of bringing more business and prosperity to the town. We understand that
the Civic Society will be demanding that figures are produced by Arun to justify
this claim, and we look forward to publishing them.
UPDATE 1st May 2015. Mrs. Brown's promises have turned out to be worthless. No "cleaning
and sealing" has been done and we now have a dirty grey precinct with various highly
visible even dirtier sections, plus a dirty and insipid brownish strip. There are
also some sunken sections where delivery lorries have parked on what was originally
the footway section and which couldn't take the weight.
Questions continue to be asked as to how this task has turned out to be so spectacularly
bungled, and we have yet to see any evidence at all that this has made any difference
to business in the town centre.