Improvements to Priory Park and changes at Novium Museum included in projects for Chichester

Tim Peake exhibition launch at The Novium, Chichester. Pic Steve Robards  SR1636452 SUS-161220-104829001
Tim Peake exhibition launch at The Novium, Chichester. Pic Steve Robards SR1636452 SUS-161220-104829001

Funds to progress projects ranging from improving Priory Park to developing a business plan for the Novium Museum are set to be provided by Chichester District Council.

Cabinet members signed off Initial Project Proposals for 2019-2020 at a meeting on Tuesday January 8, with £246,000 set to be released for either initial investigation work or to complete the smaller projects.

Priory Park celebrations, improvements are due to be made to the popular Chichester attraction

Priory Park celebrations, improvements are due to be made to the popular Chichester attraction

These include resurfacing and drainage works at Westhampnett depot, a vision for East Wittering and Bracklesham, a review of Chichester district’s parking strategy, a phase two options appraisal for Priory Park, business plan feasibility work for the Novium Museum, expanding the gigabit project to another 50 sites in Chichester, working with housing association Hyde on asset management and plans for East Beach in Selsey.

Meanwhile emerging vision projects include options for a redesign of  Northgate Car Park as well as improved wayfinding in Chichester, Selsey and Midhurst.

Back in June 2018 the council approved plans to demolish the old depot buildings in Priory Park and restore the Coade Stone statue.

The majority of the proposals for the park were put on hold until planning issues around the popular Fenwick’s Café were resolved. Since then the business has been granted permanent planning permission and council leader Tony Dignum said a lease renewal would be offered in 2020.

The second phase for works in the park will look at options for the brick pavilion, the refurbishment of the white pavilion as well as improvements to the bowls pavilion and public toilets.

Council leader Tony Dignum said his preference would be for the public toilets to be demolished and rebuilt as the current building was ‘unsuitable’.

Jane Kilby, cabinet member for housing services, said: “I’m pleased to see the exclusion of the café site from these proposals because it’s a popular local facility that bring visitors to the park.”

Richard Plowman (LDem, Chichester West), until recently the chairman of the Friends of Priory Park, described his preference to maintain the structure of the brick pavilion building and go for a refurbishment given its history.

He said it could be seen as the birthplace of international test cricket, and also referenced a photograph showing W.G. Grace stood in front of the building. He added: “I think there’s an opportunity to improve tourism by improving the brick pavilion and calling it the W.G. Grace Pavilion.”

Another project proposal would appoint consultants to look at the feasibility of redesigning of the Novium Museum’s entrance, shop and café area to create better use of the space and provide a more welcoming entrance, potential opportunities for an enhanced café/restaurant offer either on the ground or on the top floor and the potential to increase floor space by glazing over the Roman baths.

A West Sussex-wide project to create superfast gigabit connections to public sector buildings is currently underway with sites in both Chichester and Midhurst included.

CDC is set to explore the feasibility of expanding this project to an extra 50 sites within Chichester city, unlocking the ability for the provider City Fibre to connect every house and business within the city.

Peter Wilding, cabinet member for corporate services, said the plan was for CDC and West Sussex County Council to develop a joint business case to work up the detail and potential benefits. If successful the council could look at similar projects for Midhurst and Petworth.