About the Pier Road Diaries

Welcome to Pier Road Diaries, Littlehampton.

The diary is written by Paul Power, a Littlehampton business owner, author and freelance feature writer.

Background to the Littlehampton Blog

In 2012, the Environment Agency announced plans to build a new sea/flood defence wall in Littlehampton. Good news for the town, but their proposed works posed serious threats to the local business community, particularly those businesses, which were located in Pier Road, Littlehampton overlooking the harbour.

Power and his fellow traders became concerned when the Environment Agency (EA)  announced a temporary closure of Pier Road, necessary while they undertook some pre-works investigatory drilling. However, the EA had neither consulted with Pier Road businesses or residents or even applied to West Sussex County Council for the required permits to close the road.

Power challenged the EA over the proposed illegal closures of Pier Road and the EA replied that they didn’t need permits as they were ‘Environment Agency.’ Bizarrely, the EA were intent on using their emergency powers to close a road for a pre-planned capital expenditure programme.

In the end, they did have to apply for road permits to close the road and they weren’t allowed to close Pier Road during the busy period they had planned to.

It was an early warning of things to come.

Initially, the Environment Agency forecasted their works would take only 6 months and in the event they ran over time, they would suspend works during the busy tourist season thus allowing businesses and visitors to continue as usual.

However, the works took 3 years in total and the Environment Agency refused to suspend their works continuing to work during 2 busy summer seasons and breaking the promises made to Pier Road business owners and residents.

The impact of the works on local businesses was devastating.  Many local workers lost their jobs during the period that Pier Road was closed.

In a further blow to the local economy, the Environment Agency relied upon its central procurement policy for sourcing everything from materials to vehicles to staff. During the entire works, the local job centre did not advertise one job as result of the works.

Costs for the works escalated from an estimated £11.5m to £13m with the final bill believed to be in the region of £22.5m.

No explanation has ever been provided by the Environment Agency or their partners in the project – West Sussex County Council, Arun District Council, Littlehampton Harbour Board as to why initial financial forecasts proved so wrong.

The Environment Agency have never been held publicly accountable for their overspend and the fact that they’ve yet to actually finish Littlehampton’s sea defences.

Power continues to blog about life in the coastal town of Littlehampton. As yet, Littlehampton’s Flood Defences have not been completed by the Environment Agency. A large gap remains in the new flood defence wall in River Road.

 

New Stories on the Diaries have previously been taken up by:

  1. BBC Southern Counties News/Radio
  2. BBC South Today – News
  3. The Argus
  4. The Littlehampton Gazette
  5. Spirit FM
  6. Splash FM

Photographs from the diaries have previously been used and published by:

  1. BBC Sussex
  2. The Argus
  3. Littlehampton Gazette
  4. Environment Agency
  5. Look and Sea!
  6. Harbour Park, Littlehampton

Photographs and Copyright

Unless otherwise attributed, all photographs are copy right of Pier Road Diaries. If you’d like to use any of them, please email me at pierroad@live.co.uk.

If you’d like to email me – paulpower@live.co.uk

And also follow me on twitter @Pier_road

Pier Road is located in Littlehampton, West Sussex.

Littlehampton was voted one of the UK’s coolest seaside resorts by Vogue magazine.

Our Seafront/promenade is home to a number of iconic building and structures including:

  • East Beach Cafe
  • World’s Longest Bench
  • An award-winning band stand that’s too small to fit the town’s band…

Comments and contributions

Comments are welcomed and encouraged for each article/page.

Thank you for reading.

Paul Power

2 thoughts on “About the Pier Road Diaries

  1. It has taken longer than usually expected but the finishing straight is ahead. This flood defence is long over due and will undoubtedly put Littlehampton back on the map where it belongs.
    All that is needed now is for the council to order the owners of the shabby shops to make improvements on their premises, they are ugly and need bringing into the 21st century.
    From the very beginning I have overheard peoples negative remarks, silly questions like do we really need £22 million spent on the defences. Most of these comments have come from the shop owners themselves. If the area was unfortunate to have been flooded, these are the very people whom will be saying” why wasn’t anything done to prevent this”

    • Steve,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      A number of businesses in Pier Road (my own included) are and have been planning to repaint/makeover the outside of the property frontages. However, these works cannot begin until the EA’s contractors complete their post works inspections and condition surveys of the buildings. We had hoped this would be completed by now, but regrettably it’s taken longer than expected.

      Regrettably one business frontage in particular has let the road down over the years and I cannot say whether or not they have any planned improvements. So I cannot speak on their behalf. Another building, a domestic residence is in private ownership. While another business has closed owing to a change in personal circumstances and is currently up for sale.

      The small stretch of businesses that make up Pier road is isn’t particularly long and it only takes one or two unkept properties to bring the road down. Similar of course to most neighbourhoods.

      As for the council forcing improvements on business owners – their efforts would be better served improving their own terrible (and ugly) buildings on the seafront incluing the pubic toilets which are appallingly outdated, not to mention the equally awful kiosks on the frontage.

      I’d also question why given the council’s previously published regeneration plans for the Clifden road and North end of Pier Road – why they allowed a Lidls to be built here and the expansion of a Travis Perkins building yard. Both businesses which are entirely unkeeping with the environs of our beautiful harbour and arguably should have been located elsewhere.

      As for your comments re ‘ugly premises that need bringing into the 21st century”. I’m not too sure what you mean by this. Lidls is a 21st century modern building. Is this metal clad shed the sort of modern retailing you’d like to see for the remainder of Pier Road?

      I believe (as do many others) that the buildings in Pier Road are beautiful and when properly presented offer a very picturesque scene.

      I’ve got emails to this blog from visitors to our area expressing concerns that the flood defence works and new public realm may destroy the unique character of Pier Road and its eclectic mix of businesses.

      Yes, I agree that business frontages need to be presented better. However this can only take place when condition reports are agreed. This is part of legal process and as such is out of our hands.

      You need to be aware that this project began in 2010 and works were due to start in 2012. At that time, but were postponed until 2013. Difficult to refurbish buildings while a major civil engineering project is planned for outside the door of your buildings.

      Kind regards,

      Paul

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