WORK is set to start on revamping Bognor Regis’ shopping precinct in three weeks.
Arun District Council’s selected contractor is getting ready to move into the London Road paved area in mid-February.
Hobert Paving Company has been appointed to carry out the construction work, which will see the current precinct replaced by stylish new paving, trees and street furniture. It is due to be finished in the late spring.
The scheme – which is costing about £600,000 –has attracted controversy from Bognor Regis Civic Society and the UKIP county councillors around the town.
They claim it is dull and boring compared to others around Europe and will do little to improve the retail heart.
But Arun’s leader, Cllr Gillian Brown, said yesterday the council would be going ahead with the work.
“This is a fantastic scheme that will enhance and improve London Road shopping along with the precinct and I am delighted it will soon be under way.
“Arun is committed to improving the shopping and leisure experience in Bognor and, in doing so, is helping local businesses to flourish and attract more visitors to the town,” she said.
Traders could meet representatives of Hobart Paving last night in the precinct. They were able to see how the scheme would be phased to limit disruption and discuss any individual concerns they might have.
Liaison with traders in the town centre will continue during the construction phase. The shops will remain open for business throughout the period.
Arun, West Sussex County Council and Bognor Regis Town Council are contributing towards the scheme.
The district council is putting in £400,000, the county council is spending £180,000 and the town council £9,700.
The remaining £10,000 is coming from various sources.
The county council is contributing through its Kick-Start initiative. This aims to boost a local economy, promote growth, maintain and create jobs, and attract new investment from the private sector.
The designs are based on the concept scheme which received overwhelming support during public consultation last March.
Backing exceeded 90 per cent for some aspects of the work, though less than 100 responses were received by Arun.
It is also bidding for further external funding to extend the improvements either end of the precinct to enable them to stretch from the railway station to the seafront and encourage visitors to seek it out.