By Kevin Smith
A green link from Bognor Regis seafront to the South Downs is planned.
The route of some five miles will connect the coastline to the countryside in the national park.
Initial backing for Arun District Council’s principle of the connection for walking and cycling journeys has come from councillors. They agreed the idea should go out for public consultation to gain residents’ views about the vision.
Cllr Isabel Thurston (G, Barnham) said: “I very much welcome this. I am happy to see this approach.
“There are lots of positive things here and I hope we can achieve them.”
Cllr David Huntley (I, Pagham) said: “This is an exciting bit of planning. The idea to have a coherent connection between the coast and the South Downs is excellent.”
The green infrastructure masterplan was revealed to Arun’s planning policy sub-committee on Tuesday.
Karl Roberts, the council’s director of place, said the aim of the green infrastructure network was to create a corridor which linked Bognor Regis through Felpham, Yapton, Bersted, Barnham, Aldingbourne and Eastergate to the South Downs at Fontwell.
“It would be broadly aligned with the north-south route of the Lidsey Rife, taking the opportunity to link the proposed strategic development sites at the former Lec airfield (employment next to the glider club), Barnham/Eastergate/Westergate (new housing) and Fontwell so as to make use of, and link with, the green infrastructure that could be delivered in these areas.”
The proposed route would start at the junction of the seafront and Gloucester Road and carry on past the Arun Leisure Centre alongside the railway line.
It would pass under the A259 viaduct, skirt the Lidsey wastewater treatment works, go through the thousands of new homes planned for around Barnham, cross Wandleys Lane to reach Fontwell’s London Road and an upgraded A29 underpass.
Along the way, ideas such as a Lidsey wetland park, new wildflower meadows and woodlands, play areas and community orchards and allotments would be created.
Funding for the route would come from developers for its sections in their sites. The links would need to be funded by Arun.
This meant its completion could not yet be given, said Mr Roberts. But he warned: “If we don’t take the opportunity now, we will possibly lose it and end up with something we are not necessarily happy with.”
Cllr Tony Dixon (I, Aldwick E) said his pleasure at the proposed link was dimmed by the prospect of so much new housing.
“We are losing a huge area of green space. I think this is making the best of a bad job,” he said.
The consultation’s results are due to be given to the sub-committee this autumn for the route to be backed as council policy.