An update on Littlehampton Sea defence works.
Piling Works in Pier Road and Arun Parade
Piling works in Pier Road are now completed. The last pile in Pier Road was driven in successfully yesterday evening and we can look forward to a quieter environment and a welcome break from the noise of the piling works.
There is however, one small gap in Arun Parade junction with Pier Road where piling will continue. This gap had to be left until last for engineering reasons. However, it won’t take long and then the Piling Crews – two of them will be moving to the River Road area.
If you’ve visited Arun Parade recently you’ll have seen that the actual flood defence wall is taking shape as the capping has been built along quite a long stretch of the Parade.
The finished height of the wall is causing lots of concern and comment as to it being too high. Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done about this. This height was advised by the Environment Agency and Arun District Council throughout the consultation period. I have some reservations as to where the height indicators were measured from, but anyway, we’re going to be looking at a very major wall structure in Arun Parade and Pier Road which is why Arun District Council who are responsible for designing and funding the public realm for these works have to get this right. If they don’t, Littlehampton residents and visitors and future generations will be looking at an almighty eye sore wondering how this was ever allowed.
We’ve already seen the budget for the public realms having to be increased by £600,000 – £297,00 actually paid into the pot with a further £300,000 being kept in reserves.
However, even with these increased budgets, the public realm provisions have been cut back. The main feature being lost was the beautiful steps leading to the beach at the Harbour Park end of Arun Parade and the planting arrangements going from attractive tiered levels to a simple all-in slope.
So, we the local Arun tax payer are paying more for less
We all need to be vigilant now. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to ensure that Pier Road, Arun Parade and Littlehampton harbour’s future isn’t blighted by complacency, naivety and a misguided belief that Arun District Council actually deliver on anything they promise.
Of note at our last Trader’s Partnership stakeholders meeting – the contractor building the public realm informed us that they’d only just received the actual plans from Arun District Council and that they’d have an actual quotation for the works available by middle of June.
So what’s gone on here then?
We were actually promised that Pier Road and Arun Parade would be finished by July. Then we had the wet-weather excuses and so forth. But now we learn that the public realms haven’t even been quoted on and we’re at the end of June.
How can anyone honestly expect us to believe that this project, that was due to finish in July, could have actually finished on time when here we are last week in May 2014, and Arun District Council have only NOW completed their plans as ask the contractor to provide a quotation for them?
Are we really meant to believe that Arun District Council had intended to provide the contractors with a final plan for the public realm at the end of May for it to be quoted for and built by 27th July some 8 weeks later?
There’s no doubt that the Environment Agencies contractor VolkerStevin has come in for some harsh criticism. Some of it, well deserved. Which one of us could forget the evening that VolkerStevin’s Site Manager, a man who previously told us he was an old hat at piling works and had never had a previous job run overtime – tell us that it would take 30 days to pile Pier Road when in fact it’s taken almost five months. When you see the complexity of the engineering and the logistics of the build, it’s easy to see why it took them 5 months. In fact, they should be congratulated for achieving this in 5 months, but why did their site manager say 30 days?
Anyway, easy to forget or overlook good old Uncle Arun when lambasting VolkerStevin.
It’s not VolkerStevin who have created a wish-list and a grandiose plan that now can’t be funded, it’s Uncle Arun and we shouldn’t let Uncle Arun sit quietly in the corner hoping that we’ll throw all our apples at VolkerStevin.
Since the previous VolkerStevin site manager (referred to above) has been relieved of his post and a replacement appointed, we really have seem remarkable results. His replacement is a no-nonsense, amenable, get-the-job-done guy who gets my vote of confidence.
We’re lucky to have him.
With this in mind, I do think that we can now start to believe what we’re being told in relation to schedules and end dates.
What’s happening in River Road and the Arun View
If you’re a twitter follower of @Pier_road you’ll have seen I tweeted pictures of the road closures that came into force on 27th May. Essentially, River Road is now closed from just outside the ‘red footbridge’ to numbers 1-5 Riverside Walk and this section will remain closed until October subject to meeting the current works schedule.
Access still remains to the Arun View Public House and The Steam Packet and it’s important to remember that the Steam Packet Public House and restaurant remains fully open and operational.
The Arun View unfortunately has had to close its main restaurant and bar are but the front bar will remain open (where possible) during this period. Works will be underway in the Arun View as the flood defence construction includes building in front of this property (riverside) and actually inside in one area. The good news is that the Arun View will re-open bigger and better than before and we can all look forward to being welcomed back to this hugely popular, successful and friendly restaurant and bar sometime hopefully in September/October.
I’m currently photographing Reach 6, this being the one you can see down by the river Arun along the Littlehampton by-pass. It’s an interesting area as the contractors have begun digging out what appears to be a lagoon. Andrew Walker of the EA has kindly agreed to answer all my questions and give a technical overview of what’s going on here and what will the finished area look like. I know this has been of concern to a number of you as you’ve come into my shop to ask what’s going on here.
All for now, remember to sign up to regular updates for the blog by using the right hand side subscription box and don’t forget to follow @Pier_road on twitter for more regular updates and the ongoing task of forcing Arun District Council to actually deliver on their promises.