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Garden plan set to be sunk

Multi-pound plans for a new park in Bognor Regis town centre could be ditched by new councillors.


The controversial Pavilion Park scheme for the Hothamton site has been fiercely opposed by Liberal Democrat members of Arun District Council.


Their opposition failed to stop the scheme making progress when they were easily out-numbered by the council’s previous Conservative majority.


But the stunning reversal of fortunes at last week’s local elections means the Lib Dems, with some Independent allies, will be able to scrap or radically alter the proposals.


Lib Dem group leader Cllr Daniel Purchese at the count pledged the idea for the current car park, Sunken Garden and children’s play area would be reconsidered. He said “Things like the Sunken Garden and like the local plan – it’s about listening to the concerns of local people.


Many Bognor Regis councillors would say local people don’t feel listened to.


“I know Cllrs Francis Oppler and Matt Stanley have been working really hard to put forward different views and different suggestions.


“It’s important everything is on the table. I can’t go into specifics now but it’s about having a fresh look, which the residents want, and seeing how we can make that happen.”


Re-elected Independent Jim Brooks has also been among the park’s fiercest critics.


He said: “Regeneration without leisure is simply over-development. I don’t want to see any more loss of green spaces or parking in the town.


“I am very concerned about our major services there like the health centre.


“What is going to happen to that?”


Newly-elected Independent councillors Hugh Coster and Tony Dixon have also consistently opposed the Pavilion Park as members of the public.


Their places on Arun also makes it more certain alternative plans for the Queensway location will be put forward.


Cllr Coster said this week: “We are currently finalising our list of the changes we wish to see for the future, and we will be looking forward to great things happening.


“None of it will happen overnight, these things take time, so don’t expect too much straight away.”


The current plans involve building two blocks of flats and creating a green space, which critics said were smaller than the green area in the present garden.


Some of the present 215 parking spaces would also be lost under the plans to site parking around the park. As part of the proposals, the health centre could also be moved or replaced depending on the outcome of talks with the NHS.


The Pavilion Park was said by the previous council administration to be an attraction in its own right and a larger and higher quality public space than the current garden.


Its attractions are a green oasis, a cafe, water play, creative play, and and events space. There have been calls from some residents for improvements to be made to the current garden and to make it more of a community location.


The previous council had chosen consultants to turn its plan into reality but no firm proposals have been created.

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