Look and Sea plans halted by Littlehampton councillors

Arun District Council's plans for the Look and Sea Centre have been halted by opposition councillors due to a lack of scrutiny.

The Look and Sea Centre in Surrey Road, Littlehampton
The Look and Sea Centre in Surrey Road, Littlehampton

Arun District Council's cabinet approved plans to turn the whole Surrey Road landmark into a café, bar or restaurant and get rid of the visitor information centre and educational experience at a meeting on Monday, October 15. Click here to read the plans.But now, the plans have been paused after a collection of opposition councillors called in the decision to the council's overview select committee.

It was upheld by the committee's chairman Norman Dingemans and vice-chairman Paul English on the advice of the council's legal officer, according to James Walsh, who was among those who challenged the cabinet decision.

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While the plans are looked into by the committee, the search for an operator to run the café, bar or restaurant must be put on hold, he said.

He said: "We are delighted that it has been accepted for call-in. It will get a proper scrutiny where all members of the scrutiny committee will be able to question the officers and cabinet members at Arun on how we got into this situation in the first place.

"There clearly has been, quite rightly, huge public concern and anxiety about its closure. It is well recognised as an important local feature of Littlehampton which enjoyed a large local patronage, and was an important visitor destination both for schools and younger people to the visitor information centre and people of all ages to the fabulous river view and café."

The Thursday before the cabinet made their decision, the Arun regeneration sub-committee was not presented with the Look and Sea plans, and it was not put on the agenda, Dr Walsh said.

As the decision was not made with the sub-committee's consultation, Dr Walsh, fellow Lib Dem councillors Dan Purchese and Ian Buckland, Labour councillor Mike Northeast and independent councillor Graham Tyler joined forces to sign the call-in.

This was on the grounds that it had not been scrutinised by the regeneration sub-committee, the paper presented to the cabinet did not contain any costings or business plan, and there had been no community consultation with stakeholders or users of the Look and Sea Centre.

Dr Walsh said he would like to see the restaurant or café reopened in the day and the evenings, and a revamped visitor information centre at the site.