NEWLY-ELECTED councillor Matt Stanley has called for residents’ concerns about a Bognor Regis regeneration scheme to be heeded.
Cllr Stanley used his first appearance at an Arun District Council meeting to reinforce his comments that the £3.5m Hothamton linear park scheme is flawed.
He said his election in Marine ward last month showed the strength of feeling among its residents about the proposal for the Hothamton car park off Queensway.
He told Arun’s leader, Cllr Gillian Brown, at Wednesday’s full meeting of the council: “Following the result of the Marine by-election and the strength of public opinion that was demonstrated against the linear park proposal, I would like to ask the leader what is planned to demonstrate that the community’s concerns regarding the development of this site have been taken on board?”
Arun is proposing a linear park on much of the site, with car parking around it, and space for open air events, such as markets.
Two blocks of flats are planned for the western side of the site. The current health centre might or might not be included in the scheme depending on the decision by the NHS about whether or not it wants to move the facility.
Cllr Mrs Brown said the result of the by-election was marred by its low turnout. This meant the views expressed by those who went along to the ballot boxes were not typical of the wider population.
“I know you will all agree that one, or possibly two, swallows don’t make a summer,” she said.
“Many of you will also know that, for all sorts of reasons, by-elections very often have low turnouts, which is a shame.
“They are, therefore, not a good indication of what people think or want.”
She stated that Arun’s consultants had carried out a widespread consultation about the linear park last year.
“The overwhelming majority of those who responded supported the plan,” she said. “The details of this consultation were reported to full council in January of this year.
“Council officers are now working on the production of the necessary reports and plans to enable the submission of a planning application.
“I would urge all councillors to get behind this exciting scheme for the town.”
In response to a further question from Cllr Stanley, Cllr Mrs Brown said she was unable to recall the proportion of survey respondents who wanted the linear park to go ahead.
But she said the details could be seen in the appropriate report to councillors.
After his by-election win in claiming Marine ward from the Conservatives, Cllr Stanley said: “Regeneration needs to work for the people of Bognor.
“I believe our community must be allowed meaningful input and their views must be respected.”