A project to completely redevelop Bognor Regis’ sunken gardens and nearby area looks set to be dropped by the Lib Dems next month.
Arun District Council’s previous Tory administration progressed plans to create a ‘pavilion park’, with some residential development on the site of the Hothamton car park.
Environmental consultancy LUC was tasked with drawing up plans for a multi-use park, but a consultation on the designs, due to be held earlier this month, was postponed.
Lib Dem cabinet members are due to reverse the previous decision by the Tories to proceed with the implementation of the park when they meet on Monday July 8.
According to a report the preferred direction is to progress with a scheme contained within the current footprint of the sunken gardens and Hothampton play area, with the split levels retained.
These proposals would not include any residential development and the health centre would not be affected.
The council would seek public opinion through a phase of consultation before further decisions were made.
The contract with LUC would be terminated and pavilion park display boards would be removed from the site.
Terry Chapman, leader of Arun’s Conservative opposition group, said they were concerned the proposal would deny both residents of Bognor Regis and surrounding areas and stakeholders in the project the opportunity to have their say about whether the scheme should go ahead as designed.
He added: “No reasons have been given as to why the new Liberal Democrat administration have pulled the plug on consultation with residents and prevented the publication of the results of the feedback from the stakeholder engagement.”
He went on to point out how since June 2015 more than £300,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent on the project and the consultation would have been in the public interest ‘both democratically and financially to have proceeded’.
He concluded: “If the scheme had not found favour with residents then the decision to pull the plug might have been more transparent. But this decision seems arbitrary, undemocratic and wasteful.”
Meanwhile Jan Cosgrove, a former Labour town councillor and one of the leading opponents of the plans up to this point, suggested the plans had been redevelopment rather than regeneration of the area.
He suggested this could be a prelude to reviewing the council’s policy on regeneration, adding: “This is a really important time. The next four to five years will shape the future of Bognor Regis and Arun District Council has a key role.”