Major improvements to Littlehampton seafront could start next year

An update on the £7.2 million Littlehampton seafront improvement project was given at a meeting on Thursday (June 30).

Arun District Council received £19.4 million from the government’s Levelling Up Fund for the Alexandra Theatre in Bognor Regis, and Littlehampton’s seafront.

Arun will submit another bid to the second round but questions have been asked over how it will manage three large projects simultaneously.

The council will now look for a contractor to design and deliver the seafront improvements in Littlehampton but consultant fees have increased by £89,000 since it was approved.

Possible improvements to Littlehampton's seafront

Work is being carried out to discover the extent of underground infrastructure, such as drainage, before the works begin.

In addition, a report to the committee says the observation wheel may have to be moved from Banjo Road in future, once the project is under way.

Council officers have encouraged ‘careful monitoring’ of the budget due to construction inflation and the fact that the council will have to fund any overspends itself.

Public consultation is expected between Summer and Autumn 2022 with construction expected to take place between Spring 2023 and Spring 2024.

Councillors also backed a second Levelling Up Fund bid at the meeting.

It will be for a leisure cycle and walking route between Arundel and Littlehampton which will run along the existing riverside footpath.

Such a ‘complex’ and large project will require a ‘cocktail of funding’ and support from a variety of sources, according to a report before the Policy and Finance Committee.

The project was previously deemed too expensive by the council.

It will now bid for up to £20 million to deliver it and work will start straight away, regardless of government funding.

The River Arun cycle and footway is expected to cost between £11 million and £17.6 million.

Separately, a commuter route between Arundel and Ford Railway Station could cost £9.8 million and already has funding from developers.

Additional parking provision and bike hire could cost £2.6 million with maintenance costs of £30,000 expected over a 15 year period.

ADC will be required to find 10 per cent match funding for the project.

Opposition leader James Walsh (LDem, Beach) called the costs ‘eye-wateringly staggering’.

Officers explained that ‘extensive work’ had already been carried out on the proposed route, with the bid deadline on 6 July fast approaching.

Business development manager Miriam Nicholls said: “The total length of the cycle path is 14 kilometres, so it is a reasonable amount of length for what we’re paying.”

Other Lib Dems believed there should have been wider consultation before the bid was drawn up.

“The committee has now been put in the position of effectively we submit this or nothing,” Matt Stanley said, “where previously we had the option of discussing a variety of council projects.”

Other committee members said the Levelling Up Fund is a ‘good way to fund the route’ and that the costs would ensure the path is ‘done right’.

Grant Roberts (Con, Arundel and Walberton) said: “I’m beyond excited about this potential project.

“Representing Arundel and Walberton, it will help people commuting from Arundel to Ford station, it will help school children get into school, and for the district it will be a very important link between Littlehampton and the South Downs through Arundel.”