New hope in fight to save Swansea Gardens in Bognor

Supporters of a Bognor Regis site were yesterday given new hope in their campaign to save it.

Arun District Council has announced a delay in deciding the fate of the Swansea Gardens bowling greens and tennis courts.

The council has been so inundated with responses to its leisure and culture strategy – in which selling Swansea Gardens for housing to raise £2.5m is a key element – it has been forced to abandon its original timetable.

A final decision about the strategy will now not be made until next March – two months later than intended.

Richard Read, one of the leaders of the campaign to save Swansea Gardens, said: “This must give us fresh hope. The council are responding to the amount of responses they have received. That’s hope they listen to them.

“Once an area like Swansea Gardens has gone, it’s gone forever. It will never be replaced.”

A total of 2,981 responses were received by the council about the proposed strategy.

It was compiled by leisure consultants Colliers International and launched two months ago.

The suggested use for the proceedings from the sale of Swansea Gardens is to improve access to West Park.

Also suggested in the report are improvements to the Arun Leisure Centre and the Alexandra Theatre, and a children’s play site in Waterloo Square.

A new timetable to consider them and the large pile of responses will see the first councillors to debate the strategy being members of the leisure, tourism and infrastructure working group at 6pm on 
January 17.

Next will be the cabinet at 5pm on February 11. They will be followed by the full council at 6pm on March 20. All the meetings will take place at the Arun Civic Centre.

Cllr Paul Dendle, Arun’s cabinet member for environmental services, said: “I want to reassure people no decisions have been made, despite what people may think. There is a lot of false information out there about the leisure strategy.

“It is a plan for the future to ensure that, as a district, we provide 21st-century facilities and services, but there will always be a cost to this. I want to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to give us their views.

“This is a really important area for the council. It’s only right we slow up the process to reflect the high number of responses we have had and decide the next steps based on what people have told us.”