Littlehampton town centre public realm improvements
Questions and Answers
What is Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm Improvements Project?
Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm Improvements is a major regeneration project due to start in January 2022.
Its aim is to make Littlehampton town centre a more attractive place to visit, shop and enjoy for residents and visitors.
“Public Realm” is described as the public spaces between shops and buildings. It includes the pedestrianised shopping area, town centre roads, pavements, lighting, public seating, street furniture and trees.
What are the aims of the Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm project?
The project is a major part of the strategic plans to regenerate Littlehampton.
Regeneration includes attracting private sector investment and transforming the town centre to meet changing shopping and leisure habits.
Public realm improvement schemes across the country and locally, including Worthing, Bognor Regis, Brighton and Hove and other coastal towns, have been successful in attracting external investment and injecting new life into town centres.
The aim is to improve the “Look and Feel” of Littlehampton town centre and make it a great place to work, visit, socialise and spend time.
This will be achieved by: -
- Updating road layouts and traffic flow to give pedestrians priority and make the most of public open spaces.
- Resurfacing existing pavements, roads and pedestrianised areas to create a higher-quality attractive, more unique look for the town centre.
- Replacing existing benches, seating, trees, public art and street furniture to open sight lines and make the town centre a more enjoyable place to visit and spend time.
- Making it easier for shoppers and visitors to navigate their way around the town centre on foot.
- Improving links from Littlehampton Railway Station into the town centre to make arriving in the town by train a more welcoming experience.
- Contributing to the overall strategic regeneration plans for Littlehampton, including improving links between the town centre, riverside and seafront.
How much will the project cost?
The Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm improvements comprises of five key phases with a total cost of around £6 million and funding of £3.5 million is now in place to deliver Phase Two and Phase Three of the scheme.
This includes £2.45 million from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund (confirmed in April 2019), £564,000 from Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership Local Growth Fund (confirmed in October 2019) and £200,000 from both Arun District Council and Littlehampton Town Council (confirmed in December 2019).
Arun District Council plans to apply for further external funding to complete all phases of Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm as the project progresses.
The grant funding can only be spent on the Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm Improvements project.
What are the five phases of Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm project?
- Phase One – Terminus Road from Littlehampton Railway Station across Arundel Road into the High Street (No funding available yet.)
- Phase Two – High Street shopping precinct, including the junction with Surrey Street and side streets leading to the town centre, including Duke Street, St Martin’s Lane, Clifton Road and the Arcade (Funding in place).
- Phase Three – East Street through to the junction with the High Street and Beach Road (Funding in place).
- Phase Four – Surrey Street to the Look and Sea Centre and the links with Pier Road and New Road (No funding available yet.)
- Phase Five – The War Memorial roundabout in Beach Road (No funding available yet).
When will the work start?
Work is due to start January 2022.
The planned public realm improvements is a major civil engineering project, involving highways, utility suppliers, complex legal issues and extremely detailed tendering and contract work.
In 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic impacted on our efforts to progress the scheme as we quite rightly focused on supporting local shops and businesses devastated by the impact of COVID-19.
The initial tendering process, in September 2020, revealed the £3.5 million in funding currently available was insufficient to complete the first three phases of the scheme as originally planned.
A new tendering process was undertaken, focussing on the pedestrianised High Street and improvements to the junction with East Street and along Beach Road.
In March 2021, West Sussex-based Edburton Contractors were chosen to deliver the first two stages of the project, including the pedestrianised High Street, Beach Road and the High Street junction with East Street and Beach Road.
The design phase was completed in June 2021 and in July 2021, Councillors agreed to start work in January 2022 to avoid disruption for traders during the Christmas retail period.
Why has it been so long between the public consultation and the start of the work?
The funding to deliver the first three phases of the scheme was only finalised in December 2019 and the coronavirus pandemic halted progress for a few months during 2020.
Back in 2016, Arun’s initial application to the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) for £5 million to deliver all five phases of the scheme was turned down.
In January 2019, we prepared a revised bid to the CCF for £2.45 million to complete Phases One and Two and this was approved in April 2019.
Arun District Council then applied for £1.38 million from the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership Local Growth Fund and was awarded £564,000 in October 2019.
This left a shortfall of £400,000 to deliver Phase 3 and, in late 2019, Arun District Council and Littlehampton Town Council agreed to fund this shortfall equally.
Our external project management team Faithful+Gould worked with us to update the estimated project costs and start the procurement and tendering process to complete Phases One, Two and Three.
Then, the Coronavirus crisis halted our efforts.
During the crisis, our priority has been supporting businesses, helping them to access financial support and helping them to re-open safely in line with social distancing guidelines.
When we tendered for the construction project in September 2020, we only received one compliant bid and this exceeded the funding available to initially deliver three phases.
A second tendering process was carried out in October 2020, based on delivering Phase Two and Phase Three covering the pedestrianised High Street and junction with East Street and the length of Beach Road.
Phase One, covering the approach to the town centre from the railway station remains an important part of the overall scheme and will be progressed as soon as more funding becomes available.
Can the money be spent on helping town centre businesses affected by COVID-19?
The grants we have been given can ONLY be spent on the Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm Improvements.
Arun District Council, Littlehampton Town Council and our other partners are all also working hard helping town centre shops to recover and rebuild their businesses.
Have local people and businesses been consulted on the plans?
Yes. Key stakeholders, businesses and members of the public have been consulted and involved in the development of the Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm scheme since day one.
In 2016, problem areas and ideas for improvement were identified during a stakeholder “walkabout” in the town.
The findings formed the basis of the design plans prepared by design company LDA, which were then subject to a three-week public consultation exercise, along with a display of some of the potential materials for paving slabs.
Support for the Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm proposals from all sectors of the community was overwhelmingly positive and you can view the results of the consultation here.
How have traders been involved in the plans?
Traders were an important part of the initial stakeholder walkabout in 2016 and their views were also gathered during the public consultation process.
In early 2020, further consultation with traders and businesses located in the improvement areas took place as part of the Council’s preparations to minimise disruption during the works.
This included: -
- Identifying the access needs of shops and businesses for deliveries
- Collecting views about potential changes to vehicle access in the main shopping precinct.
- Confirming traders’ preferred ways to be kept informed during the works.
This consultation confirmed there is still strong support from traders for the planned improvements.
Will parking, loading arrangements and vehicle access change in the precinct?
The aim is to improve pedestrian priority in shopping areas whilst accommodating the access needs of traders.
Face to face interviews with traders have been carried out to understand their delivery needs and preferences for parking and loading arrangements in the project area.
Their views are being shared with highways experts who will create proposals which ensure parking and loading bays are wide enough for the vehicles using them and that there are safe crossing points for pedestrians.
Potential parking and vehicle access changes will be the subject of separate and more detailed consultations as the proposals are developed.
In some areas, pavements may be widened to reduce traffic speed and make it easier to navigate the town on foot.
What measures are being taken to ensure new road and junction layouts and materials are safe?
Any planned changes to public highways must pass stringent Road Safety Audits before they can go ahead.
Road Safety Audit Stage 1 has already been successfully undertaken and a Stage 2 Audit will take place once detailed plans have been created.
The detailed plans will include expert advice and input from West Sussex County Council’s Highways department and take traders’ views into account.
How have the materials and colours been chosen?
The proposed colour scheme and suggested paving, road and kerbing materials formed part of the public consultation exercise in 2016.
The final materials and designs may alter if this is recommended by Highways and / or civil engineers working on the scheme.
All the materials used will comply with national safety standards.
We will publicise the final designs and materials once all due diligence and testing has been carried out.
Our aim is to create an overall look and atmosphere that is unique to Littlehampton.
What will happen to the Town Clock?
The Town Clock belongs to Littlehampton Town Council and will stay in its current position.
The clock was a gift to the town and is an important part of the town’s history and there is strong support to keep it where it is.
How will disruption for shoppers and traders be kept to a minimum during the works?
Works are due to start in January 2022, to allow traders and shoppers to avoid disruption during the Christmas retail period.
All shops and businesses will be able to stay open during the works and emergency service access will be maintained at all times.
Arun District Council and Littlehampton Town Council are determined to keep Littlehampton’s shops, restaurants and cafés “Open for Business” during the works, especially after the loss of income suffered due to the coronavirus crisis.
We will keep all key stakeholders informed during the works.
The works will be completed in small physical “chunks” to limit disruption.
Arrangements will be in place to allow deliveries to shops to continue during the works.
How will you encourage shoppers and visitors to keep coming to the town during the construction works?
The Council and its partners will do everything it can to support traders during the works, especially after the damaging impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
A significant amount of extra money has already been set aside for town centre promotions and events to encourage people into the town centre when it is safe to do so.
The Council and its partners will work closely with traders to develop ideas which ensure shoppers and visitors understand that Littlehampton remains “Open for Business” during the works.
Will the regular street markets take place while the works are going on?
We will do our best to ensure street markets can continue to operate during the works.
If we need to relocate markets as work takes place, we will make sure the changes are publicised.
By completing the work in small sections, all parts of the main shopping areas will stay “Open for Business.”
Will delivery vehicles still be permitted when the works are complete?
Yes, and the contractors will work with businesses to enable this.
New restrictions on delivery hours within the pedestrian precinct may be proposed to bring Littlehampton in line with other towns to ensure shoppers and visitors have priority during normal opening hours.
There is evidence from other areas that shows footfall increases when trafficked streets become fully vehicle-free and this has been the case in Bognor Regis.
Has potential flooding risk been taken into account?
Yes. As part of the project, civil engineers are reviewing existing drainage systems and, if necessary, will identify any improvements needed to minimise the risk of flooding.
Will parking restrictions change when the works are finished?
Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) which control highway access and on-street parking are being reviewed to ensure concerns around parking spaces, time restrictions, loading bays and disabled parking are addressed.
How will anti-social behaviour be deterred?
CCTV cameras will continue to be in operation throughout the works.
As part of the project, the cameras will be repositioned and additional cameras will be installed to improve the CCTV scheme.
This will help Sussex Police to record and respond to incidents effectively.
Littlehampton’s traders operate a business crime reduction partnership which will continue and improved lighting throughout the town centre will reduce the likelihood of criminal behaviour.
The design and location of seating areas will also deter antisocial gatherings.
Who is carrying out the works?
Arun District Council has commissioned expert construction project management consultants Faithful+Gould to act as our professional team, acting as Project Manager, Cost Consultant and Highways Advisor.
Faithful + Gould are responsible for managing the procurement and tendering process for all elements of the work and have worked with Arun District Council in the appointment of Edburton Contractors to carry out the first two phases of the work.
They also ensure key partners and stakeholders are engaged in a timely fashion and that the necessary permissions are in place to allow the works to take place.
Can the funds be used for anything else?
No - the terms and conditions of the grant funding states the money must be used on the Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm Improvements project.
Arun District Council and Littlehampton Town Council are both committed to delivering the town centre regeneration project.
How can I keep up-to-date with the scheme’s progress?
As the technical and financial aspects of the scheme are finalised, we will communicate more definitive information and details about Littlehampton Town Centre Public Realm Improvements project.
We will keep traders and businesses in the construction areas well-informed with regular communication.
Who do I contact for further information?
Contact email@example.com at Arun District Council if you have specific enquiries about the scheme which aren’t covered here.