SENIOR councillors have vowed to continue with high-profile plans to improve the shopping precinct in Bognor Regis.
Arun District Council’s cabinet has agreed to appoint a highways engineer to provide specialist support for the project in London Road.
The £20,000 cost will come from funds the council has put together towards the £616,000 project to provide a new look for the key retailing area.
The decision on Monday by the cabinet’s members was an important step towards the revamp starting early next year.
Cllr Paul Dendle, the cabinet member for environmental services, said: “I very much support this.
“There’s been a lot of discussion in the press regarding the design and lots of comment, particularly from the Civic Society.
“The important thing we should concentrate on is that we have £180,000 from the county council’s Kickstart fund which has to be spent by next March.
“What we have to do is to get on with the work. From the designs I have seen, they are very good.
“We can improve on them with flowers and other things at a later stage. But we need to get on with this.”
Council leader Cllr Gillian Brown said the engineer’s appointment was good news.
“The level of public support was absolutely huge when we did a very extensive consultation plus a workshop which consisted of representatives of all local groups, small and large, and including the Civic Society.
“It’s rather sad a small group is trying to stop this at the last minute,” she said.
“It’s good news that £600,000 is being spent in Bognor town centre.”
Cllr Paul Wotherspoon, who leads the council’s community development work, said: “It’s important to note it’s not just Arun, it’s the town and county councils we are working in partnership with to deliver these improvements. I hope people recognise that.”
Joe Russell-Wells, the council’s environmental services and emergency planning manager, said the engineer would ensure delivery and emergency vehicles could use the precinct without damaging its new surface.
The engineer would also make sure the design was correctly installed.
The scheme’s aim is to provide a strong link from the station to the sea by using co-ordinated monolith signage, lighting columns, paving materials, trees and unified furniture.
A public consultation last March showed 80-95 per cent support.
The work is being funded by the county, district and town councils as well as money from developers.