Members of Arun District Council’s environment committee gave approval for a £320,000 investment at Bersted Brooks nature reserve on Thursday (20 January).
The investment would also see an extra £10,000 given by the council for other day-to-day costs.
Not much is known about the plans at this stage but the money could see the 46-acre nature reserve transformed into a ‘country park’.
This might include extending the car park; new signage; seating and bins; a new footpath network and a park ranger.
Final approval for the sum will have to be given at a full council meeting in February.
Speaking during the environment committee meeting, council leader Shaun Gunner (Con, Rustington East) said he had asked for the investment.
“I believe this is a good use of council money because I believe that we need to be enhancing our natural spaces,” he said.
“When I became leader of the council last year, I said very clearly that we as a district need to be making use of our natural assets to make Arun a fantastic place to live and to work and to visit.
“We will be coming forward with proposals in the new fiscal year, which you’ll see we’ve budgeted for, to enhance that area and make it a fantastic visitor destination.
“I’m really proud to see that in our budget today; I’m really proud to see that a Conservative administration is able to use some extra money in order to deliver for the residents of the district.”
Isabel Thurston (Green, Barnham) said: “Certainly we’ve got big developments next door so, in future, we should actually be asking developers to help fund this kind of thing.”
She also claimed the investment could see the council spend ‘an awful lot more’ on the country park than on ‘climate change and biodiversity’.
She asked: “Is this the best use of our money for the wildlife of the area, given how limited our money is?
“It seems like a lot of money. I’m not saying I’m against it but I wish there was more money spent on everything else to do with green spaces.”
Council officers said the project would go hand in hand with ‘delivering the council’s green agenda’ and ‘carbon reduction’ – areas which they anticipate will see more investment in the future.
The environment committee also approved £1.72 million for parks and green spaces; £131,000 for coastal protection and drainage; £225,000 to replace play equipment in the district; £36,000 for foreshores; and £10,000 which will pay for 100 small native trees to be planted.
All of the above will require final approval at full council in February.