A GREEN light for a bid to protect an open space in Bognor Regis site has been given by town councillors.
Members of Bognor Regis Town Council voted overwhelmingly to support the application to make the Hothamton Sunken Garden a village green. The legal recognition will stop it being developed if the proposal is accepted by West Sussex County Council in its role as the commons registration authority.
The Sunken Garden will be swept away under Arun District Council’s regeneration proposal for a linear park, which would also include the current Hothamton car park. But Cllr Jan Cosgrove said the present green space should be recognised for its importance in the town centre.
“I can get the town green application in within two weeks. There is a considerable amount of support in the town,” he told the town council’s meeting on Monday.
“I believe the way forward on this is to get this site recognised with as much support as possible,” he said.
“With the town council supporting this tonight, it shows this is achievable as well as telling Arun they can’t do what they want with the land. I believe we have the means here to put a stop to something that I find extremely difficult to accept – piecemeal development.
“First of all, Arun will put in plans for a linear park and then the flats. That’s not the way the masterplan envisages that area to be developed.”
Cllr Matt Stanley (LD, Marine) said: “We are desperately short of green space in our town. There are so many links between peoples’ mental health and their ability to access parks and green spaces.
“This is an extremely important issue and I am supporting this motion.
“The Sunken Garden absolutely needs investment and there are issues with anti-social behaviour. The community wants this issue dealt with but we do not have to have the green space ripped out.”
But Cllr Sandra Daniells (I, Pevensey) said: “It may be that you are successful in having the Sunken Garden registered as a village green but you will halt any development going on there forever.”
Cllr Pat Dillon (C, Pevensey) said the linear park proposals featured a host of attractions for people of all ages. They would include a water feature, a pavilion and a play area.
The debate took place under the town council’s urgency rules, rather than wait two months, after Cllr Cosgrove argued time was tight to stop the linear park plans.
“The urgency is that Arun’s planning application is ready to go and it will take quite a while to get the village green application put through the government department. We need some action on it to be able to influence Arun’s timescale in receiving planning permission for the linear park,” he said.
Anyone can apply to register land as a town or village green under the Commons Act 2006. The application must show the land has been freely used by a significant number of people for recreation for at least 20 years.