At a recent meeting, around 50 residents descended on Worthing Town Hall to discuss council plans to redevelop the park, in Lyndhurst Road. Many were from the Allies of Beach House Park, a resident group catalysed by the removal of shrubs along the south edge of the park late last year, which they said had let in air and noise pollution.
Following the meeting, Jim Deen, Labour councillor for central ward, said he shared their concerns and suggested the Allies should be the ‘go to’ group for future consultation.
He said: “Worthing has a huge heritage of fine parks that were nationally recognised. We’ve lost a lot of that over the last 40 or 50 years. We should be working together to re-establish that reputation for excellence.”
The Allies previously argued the shrubs’ removal had little public consultation, and wanted to protect the remaining flora from being destroyed.
Jane Simons is secretary of the group, and was at the meeting.
She said: “What was announced as a public meeting on February 20th (hosted by Philippa Reece, parks manager and councillor Edward Crouch), was changed to a ‘drop in’ session which meeting format was clearly designed
to deliberately make people shuffle around a few display boards as individuals without giving anyone the opportunity to speak as a group.”
She described the presentation as ‘very poor’, adding: “Looking at the council’s presentation - with the park divided into zones not indicated as to location or role within the park as a whole – and photocopied pictures of bird nesting stations, B&Q style garden furniture and other tawdry ‘things’ not at all in keeping with the tranquillity of the park or, most importantly its status as a listed asset, one would never
have suspected there was such a discipline as landscape architecture, nor guessed at the place of Beach House Park in it.”
She said ‘residents were now so incensed’ they had started their own petition. See it here.
Jim Deen said at the meeting, members of bowling clubs that use the greens feared they may no longer be maintained – and this uncertainty was affecting their recruiting. He added the Allies group was aware of plans for an entertainment centre in the park, aimed at younger people. Secretary Jane Simons described it as ‘counter to the tranquillity and peace of the park’.
Jim felt the loss of the park’s Green Flag award had motivated the changes – but had been denied access to relevant reports, which he branded as ‘not acceptable’.
A Worthing Borough Council spokesman said: “We had a very productive public meeting recently with interested parties and will be bringing forward a number of proposals shortly for Beach House Park as we continue to evaluate and develop all of our much loved parks.
“We remain absolutely committed to ensuring Beach House Park remains an important green space for residents and visitors alike.”