Money talks as Bognor's regeneration is backed

Car parking, space and money were hot topics as councillors debated Hothamton's Linear Park plans.

Friday, 15th December 2017, 2:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:51 pm
An artist's impression of what the Hothamton car park site could look like as a linear park SUS-170228-104442001

The special Bognor Regis regeneration committee voted last night to recommend the ‘less expensive’ option two, estimated at £3,530,000.

Chairman Phil Hitchins had warned the purpose of the meeting was to approve the concept, stating: “We are speaking in generality here, not how wide the lines are or what colour the wallpaper is.”

However, the uncertainty of the finer details and the confirmation plans wouldn’t return to the committee prompted concerns.

Artist impressions of how the space could be set out

Councillor Paul Wells said: “You are asking us to vote tonight on an outline that could be completely different in a few months’ time.

“We got our fingers burnt with London Road and I am not prepared as a councillor to have no future input.”

Mr Hitchins replied: “I don’t think the overall concept will change. Just a week ago we were talking about 180 parking spaces and now we are up to 199 and I think we will keep that. I think the results will be favourable.”

The exchange led councillor Trevor Bence to give an impassioned plea for this project not to follow in the path of others, which he said had been ‘congested, stopped and stalled’ to the point they ‘died a natural death’.

“I am sick to the back teeth of listening to what people want and don’t want, the real thing is money.

“Building materials are going up by the second and it will become an unaffordable dream. I am not frightened of it not coming back to the committee as we have had plenty of opportunities.

“We need to move Bognor Regis forward.”

The issue of funding saw the controversial matter of flats raised, with Mr Wells stressing they shouldn’t feature on these ‘key sites’.

Mr Hitchins said: “Unfortunately we don’t have a money tree and it is a balance with what we have to do. No-one is going to be 100 per cent happy with it, we are being innovative, we are looking outside the box and we are doing something special.”

Supporting the recommendation the council undertakes the building of the park, councillor Pat Dillon added: “If we do it ourselves we have more control. Unlike in London Road where we got wrangled with a lot of stuff we didn’t want or didn’t ask for.”

The matter now goes to full couuncil in January.

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