Addressing your concerns (Littlehampton town centre public realm improvements)
The ongoing pandemic has changed the way we’ve lived over the past 2 years and bought uncertainties and disruption to businesses and employees. The long-term aim of this project is to revitalise Littlehampton to make it a more attractive place for visitors and attract new investment. Whilst in the short-term it is not possible to do a scheme of this scale with zero impact, every effort is being made to reduce it as much as possible.
Alternative use of money
The money awarded can’t be used for an alternative scheme or put towards funding anything else. A detailed bid and budget were used to apply for this funding and once successfully secured the money can only be used to deliver this project as specified in the bid.
Arun Police work with our Community Safety Team to address local concerns and perceptions of anti-social behaviour in the town centre. The Littlehampton Community Wardens also have a presence in the High Street and liaise with Arun Police when necessary
Changing road layouts
The alterations to road layout will create better traffic flow and be safer. The highway will be simplified with more space dedicated to pedestrians, and the creation of three new crossings on Beach Road to make it an easier place to navigate on foot.
Disruption to businesses will be minimal throughout the construction. Edburton will work sensitively to reduce the impact on trade with all continuing to stay open. Our contractors will speak to business owners to let them know how the scheme is progressing. Please feel free to approach David Wells (Foreman) and raise any concerns you have at the earliest opportunity. We are reinforcing the message that shoppers should continue to visit the town as normal to support independent businesses.
Drainage and flooding
The changes we are making are like for like and won’t negatively impact on current drainage systems. Southern Water have not requested additional intervention, but we are installing additional gullies along Beach Road, which will assist with the flow of surface water. It won’t change the capacity of the sewers – we are simply diverting under crossing points.
The flood in 2018 classed as a 1 in 60 year event, having significant impact, as the sewers are only capable of dealing with a 1 in 30 year event, so when considerably more water enters the system, there is nowhere for it to go. The area is zoned at a Flood Risk Zone 3 – being one of the highest at risk of flooding – nothing that we are doing impacts this or the amount of water entering the sewers.
We are in no position to insist Southern Water upgrade their sewers because we aren’t doing anything that negatively impacts their network.
There is no compensation available to traders. Our contractors will work sensitively to ensure businesses are able to trade normally.
We continue to support independent businesses by making several grants available, designed to encourage investment and entrepreneurship. The Shopfront Enhancement Grant, for example, can offer successful applications up to £2,000 towards improving their shop’s façade. Many other grants are also available with further information available here: https://www.arun.gov.uk/leap
Pavement marking and discolouration
The newly laid pavements will be pressure washed and coated in a protective sealant. Although this won’t stop them from general wear and tear it will help maintain their appearance for longer. Our contractors will be doing this in stages as sections are completed.
Pigeon infestation in the Arcade
We have received many comments about the pigeon infestation in the Arcade. Because of this, bird poo is concentrated on ledges above the entrance to the Arcade and on the new paving below.
The building is privately owned and this issue has been reported to the new owners. They have confirmed that they are aware of the problem. The frontage will be cleaned and netting will be installed to prevent the pigeons from returning.
Range of shops and limited offer
By creating a more attractive environment within the town centre, we hope this will encourage businesses to invest in the town and open new stores which will help to increase footfall. We can’t invite popular stores to open a branch in Littlehampton as they do their own research before making that decision. They consider possible areas using criteria such as demographic profile, existing businesses, footfall numbers, and most importantly for many of the High Street ‘names’, the size of available units to assess whether a location will be profitable.
Reduced parking spaces at St Martins
The contractors are using a section of St Martins car park as a compound as it’s the only viable space large enough and close to the site that is owned by Arun District Council. Any alternative sites would incur rent which there is not budget for and would not be covered by insurance. Alternative parking is available at Anchor Springs, and Manor House – both are covered by the free 2 hours parking disc scheme.
The test centre in St Martins car park to be removed on 18 April 2022.
Rent and Business Rates
The properties in the town centre are owned by private landlords who set their own rent amounts at commercial ‘market rate’ and the council has no control over these figures.
Business rates are often seen as a barrier to people wanting to open a new shop, however small businesses can apply to Arun District Council to receive Small Business Rate Relief
Value for money
Most of the funding has come from central government departments which allocate a budget for councils to bid for so that they can deliver town centre improvements and regeneration schemes. If we had not been awarded this money for Littlehampton it would have been spent on a similar scheme in another part of the UK. The scheme is designed to be a driver of change. We are confident that improving the town centre will encourage established shop owners to further invest in their shops and increase visitor numbers and time spent in the town centre, as well as attract new businesses.