We have lived here for 11 years with friendly, helpful shop keepers, those that are left, and the great sense of community spirit. It is probably the best place we have ever lived. However, in the past ten years, there have been many attempts to change this town and not for the better.
Almost 10 years ago, the hospital was knocked down and, in spite of detailed plans and promises of a new build, the site is still empty and fenced off.
This seems extraordinary when Littlehampton has the biggest population in the district. But in the surrounding area – Arundel, Bognor, Rustington – all have convalescent provision of some sort and Simon Stevens, head of NHS, talks of a ‘cottage hospital’ arrangements for each community.
Next there was suggestion that the cinema/theatre, much used and loved by the community, should be replaced by a five-storey hotel. After much protest fortunately it has been kept going by volunteers and now hopefully has a reasonable future under new management.
Then there is the swimming pool complex. Again, after much public protest, hopefully it is to be rebuilt on the same site.
Proposals then came for a very large increase in parking fees on the green, reduced a little after protest and finally a suggestion that the green should be made into gardens or allotments.
The green is a unique facility along the south coast and used a great deal, particularly by families, since it is safe from traffic. So please can it be left alone and continue to be maintained in the same way as it already is?
In view of this past history, may I propose as part of the town regeneration, two possibilities for consideration.
Firstly, the rather poor medical centre could be demolished. Then the library and the adjoining hospital site would be excellent to use to construct a community centre.
The library is a large Grade II listed building and with some addition and careful alteration, could contain a smaller library facility, but also provision for the services currently provided by the Tamarisk which is closing.
These facilities could also be used for youth activities, particularly in the evening.
There would be an opportunity for a medical centre perhaps even a couple of convalescent wards. This provision would be easily accessed by public transport and full used made of it at all times, thus providing best value for money in these financially constrained times.
Secondly, we turn to the Waitrose site, again very centrally placed with good parking and public transport access. It’s a very large building the advantage is of course that it already exists.
I’m sure that a talented architect in a competition with a small prize for the winner, could be found rather than using tax payers’ money to find one.
Either of these places could be designed to provide all the aforesaid services.
I believe that the concentration of these desperately needed facilities on either of these sites would itself bring much more activity to the town centre and help enormously with the town’s regeneration.
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