This is Arun's set of proposals for the Hothamton area situated to the north of Waterloo
Square covering what is known as the Sunken Gardens and the Hothamton Car Park ‒
which is the ground level car park accessed off the top end of Queensway.
Arun claims that the 2015 consultation "informed" their proposals and gave public
approval to them. This is an untruth, as 1) that consultation specifically excluded
the Sunken Gardens from consideration in the text and on the plans, 2) the 2015 consultation
showed that flats were not wanted there, 3) the consultation showed people wanted
similar or more car parking, and 4) it showed that people did not believe that Council
Taxpayers should foot the bill ‒ which was stated by Arun to be about £4 million.
This was all ignored in Arun's proposals which, they said, were to: "create an attractive
green corridor, and lead pedestrian traffic between the town, seafront and Regis
Centre." Difficult to see the geographic logic of that, but essentially the plan
was to rearrange the car park and the gardens into a long thin strip of green (for
which wonderful things were suggested by Arun) with a strip of roadway either side
having car parking on both sides of the road. Arun held another "consultation" in
late 2017, in which this picture was used:
The large block on the left was assumed by most people at the consultation to be
the existing Health Centre, and nothing was said by Arun to counter this. Until
one or two people queried it, when it emerged that two blocks containing about 100
flats were planned to be built there, possibly eliminating the Health Centre.
So it then became clear that the real purpose of the re-arrangement of the car park
and gardens was to make space for the footprint of the flats. "Surely we will then
end up with less green space and fewer car parking spaces?" was the question that
automatically followed. "No, there will be more green space," was the answer, "and
about the same number of car park spaces." Some people were deceived by this because
the pictures certainly made it LOOK as if there would be plenty of space.
Unconvinced, we then measured the whole area with a long tape. And established that
this was another untruth by Arun. There will be a LOSS of green space and play area
of 1,163 sq.m., which is 26% of what we have now. And there will also be a LOSS of
car parking spaces, which Arun has now admitted, although how many remains to be
seen. That green strip you see above will be a great deal narrower than you are being
led to believe, but Arun still continue with their fiction.
"OVERWHELMING APPROVAL" ‒ BY 19 PEOPLE!
At the 10th January 2018 Arun Full Council meeting Council Leader Mrs. Gillian Brown
said that there had been "overwhelming approval" of the Linear Park concept by the
public at the 2017 consultation. Another untruth, because it later emerged that
the written responses showed that only 19 people liked what they saw. And a later
Freedom of Information request asked Arun for written evidence upon which Mrs. Brown
had based her comment, and they were unable to supply it. Only about 200 people attended
the consultation, out of about 63,000 in the Greater Bognor Regis area.
There are a great many public concerns about the concept, apart from the loss of
green and play space and loss of parking:
Children playing in a park surrounded by constantly moving cars, stopping, starting,
Pollution from vehicles affecting park users, particularly children.
Dangers of new road junctions opposite existing at north and south ends.
Dangers of circulating vehicles looking for a space emerging onto highway at north
and south ends.
Loss of fire access slip road serving Fitzleet tower block and obstruction of fire
service by parked cars.
Possible loss of the Health Centre facility for town centre residents.
Loss of scores of mature trees and shrubs in existing sunken gardens.
Existing 'wind tunnel' effect will be made worse by more high buildings.
Arun claim that the changes will solve the existing anti-social behaviour problems
in the sunken gardens, but many, including the Community Gardeners who look after
them, dispute Arun's claims that this is excessive. And it has to be said that Arun
has had Orders in place for a long time to deal with any such problems. Any existing
problems have to be due to Arun's failure to enforce the Orders.
Arun, clearly stung by all the public criticism of their proposals, has now granted
itself planning permission for four notice boards to be erected around the area,
to "inform" the public on their proposals. The public view is that this is desperate
"propaganda" put out by a failing council, unable to engage with and listen to its
And the fact still remains that there has been no properly conducted public consultation
on the Linear Park, and Arun is clearly afraid to ask the public directly whether
they want it or not ‒ because the councillors won’t even attend public meetings.
Arun claims that there will be further consultation, but it has also quietly emerged
that this will only be in the form of "focus groups", almost certainly appointed
by Arun from a panel of yes-men/women.
And in Arun's eyes, "consultation" can also mean the responses we can make to a planning
application ‒ which is almost useless in those terms, as objections can only be made
on strict planning grounds. It seems that Arun will be applying to itself for planning
permission sometime early in 2019, and many feel that this is essentially corrupt
and an abuse of power. No doubt there will be more to come.