What’s happening around our town

LONDON ROAD SHOPPING PRECINCT PROPOSALS CRITICISED

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 or flowers.

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.

Click here to return to Frontpage News.