Littlehampton new swimming pool and leisure centre given the go ahead.

Great news for Littlehampton residents and visitors to our beautiful seaside town. Councillors at Arun District Council have unanimously agreed Arun District Council’s (ADC) to build a new Leisure centre including a  new 25 meter swimming pool.

Littlehampton’s new leisure centre will be located at the existing Sea Road site with the new building being built on the site of the existing Sport’s Dome, thereby allowing the existing swimming pool, gym and cafe to continue to operate during the building works.

Facilities at Littlehampton’s new Leisure Centre will include:

  • 25 metre pool
  • Learner pool with a moveable floor
  • Gym – circa 450 m2 giving up to 85 stations
  • Spinning Studio
  • Cafe
  • Multipurpose meeting room
  • Dome will be replaced with a 4 court sports hall
  • 2 flexible studios that will be able to accommodate many of the activities that take place in the existing sports dome.
  • new facility will be DDA Compliant.

New facility will not include a 50 metre swimming pool.

Some will be disappointed that the new facility does not include a 50metre swimming pool, however Arun advise that this wouldn’t be possible as the costs of constructing one would increase the project costs by an estimated £3m and the subsequent running costs would be considerably higher.

Dome users will have no facilities while works are underway

Unfortunately current users of the Dome will see this facility taken away as the new building is being built on this part of the site. Arun advise that Freedom Leisure are currently working on ways of providing alternative facilities.

Littlehampton Residents Concerns.

Some residents had worried that the new facility would be located in North Littlehampton, however Arun District Council have now decided that new facilities will be located in the existing site, which is great news for Littlehampton’s seafront.

Tree felling.

Others have worried that the new facility will require trees to be felled in Littlehampton’s Mewsbrook Park and Ruby Gardens. Although some trees will have to be felled to allow building works, Arun advise that will take place outside of the nesting season and will be kept to a minimum. They also promise to replant trees to replace those felled.

Impact on the Aqua Youth Centre

Apart from what Arun describe as some small alterations to the layout of the Aqua Youth Centre, Arun advise that this much-loved and tremendous local sailing facility will continue to operate as normal.

Building works begin in Spring 2017

Building of the new facilities is expected to begin as early as Spring 2017 and completion by April 2019.

Arun District Council are giving assurances that works will not disrupt existing leisure facility users and current car parking arrangements and access will be  maintained.

The new facility is expected to cost £15million and Arun are a little unclear as to how this will be funded. They state that funding will come from:

  1. Capital receipts
  2. Borrowing (which Arun describe as ‘prudent borrowing’.
  3. Grant from Sport England

Arun have yet to have grant funding from Sport England approved,  and it’s unclear if they’ve actually yet applied for a grant, yet this is still classified as a funding source. Somewhat worrying, as what happens if Sport England reject their grant application?

Who pays then, and more importantly, how much?

Although this is very much welcome news for Littlehampton and Arun residents, we should all keep a close eye on the project’s progress to ensure that what’s promised is actually delivered.

Once the new facility has been built, Arun advise that the old facility will be demolished and the area turned into a public space.


As always thanks for reading, your comments welcome.

 

 

Travellers now occupying Littlehampton Seafront Car Park

Updated – Travellers left Littlehampton on Sunday 27th November and last seen heading along the A27 past Chichester towards Portsmouth area.

Littlehampton’s Banjo Road, seafront car park is now home to a large number of travellers. All vehicles have foreign registration marks, which include a Bentley and other expensive luxury cars.Littlehampton car parkEasy access to the seafront car park as Arun District Council had left the height barriers open. The height barrier installed to prevent such trespasses.

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This Bentley amongst the high quality, expensive cars that have arrived towing large caravans.

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The scene this morning where a large number of travellers have gained entry to Littlehampton’s seafront car park.

I’ve reported on these trespasses before on my blog and I highlighted the complete disregard that Arun District Council take in preventing these occurrences. Illegal trespasses which cost the local tax payer significant money in evicting them as well as the problems created by their presence.

On this occasion Arun District Council left the car park’s height barrier open, which if closed would have prevented their gaining entry.

Sussex Police are on scene with two police cars and a number of uniformed police officers.

Littlehampton travellers

Sussex police officers talking to caravan owners who just arrived in Littlehampton.

Arun District Council bylaws forbid overnight camping in seafront car parks or anywhere on the council’s seafront greensward.


As always, thanks for reading, comments welcome.

Arun District Council get ‘tough’ with Morrissons Supermarket in Wick

The lion that is Arun District Council’s planning department, has roared.

Well actually, growled softly.

Or to be more accurate, waved it’s furry paws at the supermarket giant, Morrissons – for their continued failure to comply with the conditions of their planning consents.

This story dates back to April 2012 when Morrissons applied to Arun District Council to build a new supermarket on what was the old Body Shop’s premises. Arun District Council’ Planning department granted Morrissions permission to build, on the basis that Morrissons would include an ‘Enterprise Hub’ as part of their store.

The Enterprise hub was to provide offices for small businesses to rent for up to 200 employees.

The planning consent stipulated the Enterprise Hub must be completed prior to the store opening.

Unsurprisingly, Morrissons ignored the planning stipulation and opened their new store and failed to provide an Enterprise Hub.

Meanwhile Arun District Council’s Planning department, somewhat surprisingly, let them get away with it.

Until now (some 3 years later) when Mr Karl Roberts, Arun District Council’s Director of Planning and Economic Regeneration, has finally roared into life and written to Morrissons advising them they must comply with the conditions of their planning consents.

Mr Roberts is unapologetic in his harsh approach to Morrissons.

” The council doesn’t take enforcement action lightly but it is important that planning rules and procedure is followed correctly.” he says. ” I hope Morrisons will take swift measures to remedy the situation otherwise the council will need to consider further action.”

Enforcement action, Mr Roberts?

What enforcement action?

You’ve finally got off your backside after 3 long years and done what exactly?

Written a letter.

How about comparing your so called ‘enforcement action’ against Morrissons supermarket, to someone whose parked legally in an Arun District Council car park, paid for parking but returned later than they’ve paid for. Here your council’s enforcement action slaps the ‘offender’ with an instant £70 fine.

Unlike your council’s treatment of Morrissons, there’s no ignoring an overstayer in one of Arun District Council’s car parks. Or of course if you’re unfortunate enough to be late in sending your monthly council tax payment to Arun District Council expect to get a demand from the council that you now pay all your council tax in advance.

Or how about the classic Arun District Council enforcement action, as demonstrated by Nigel Croad, Deputy Chief Executive at an Arun District Council planning meeting in 2013?

This really is a classic. A  meeting of Arun District Council’s planning committee where the public have been invited to attend.

However, as Arun District Council underestimated the level of public interest, they failed to provide enough room for those in attendance and a large section of the public were debarred from taking part.

Mr Croad’s response is to bait the crowd by accusing them of being silly. Of course they were being rather silly, Mr Croad. Foolish in believing that someone as inept as yourself could actually successfully arrange a public meeting, and correctly gauge public interest and provide adequate facilities.

When finally, handling a group of mildly irate residents became all too much for Mr Croad, he called Sussex police.

The Youtube video below by Pete Edgeler captures the atmosphere beautifully. Watch Mr Croad, (the Basil Faulty look-alike appearing at .50 in the video) demonstrate how not to  manage a public meeting.

I very doubt either Mr Croad or his colleague Mr Roberts would dare speak to representatives of Morrissons in the same way as he addressed this group of local residents.

 

 

Or how about Arun District Council’s treatment of Alan, Pier Road’s most eccentric resident? Here Arun District Council’s Planning Department have written to a local resident and amongst other things, demanded to know why he has a toy dog and a mannequin attached to his property. A property, which gives many many visitors and locals some joy and amusement.

Yet when it comes to Morrissons supermarket not complying with the conditions of their planning consents, what do Arun District Council do?

 

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As always, thanks for reading.

Your comments welcome below.

 

 

Latest Update from the construction of Littlehampton Sea Defences, the crane climbs onto the bridge

Today, Tuesday 25th February 2014 marked an important milestone in the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences as the especially created Crane Bridge was commissioned.

Littlehampton Sea DefencesThe especially created ‘Crane Bridge’ above.

If you’ve just joined us, a quick overview on why the bridge is necessary.

The Project’s engineering team previously discovered that Pier Road is simply not strong enough to take the weight of the 130tonne crane, which is needed to undertake the piling work.  To overcome this problem,  a massive ‘Crane Bridge’ or platform has been designed and constructed to lessen the weight impact on Pier Road.

Today, we witnessed the amazing sight of the 130 tonne crane quite literally driving up an especially created shingle ramp onto the Crane Bridge where it will operate from.

The pictures below detail both the construction of the ramp and the driving of the crane onto the platform.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 1aWork begins on building the crane ramp.

Over 400 tonnes of shingle were needed to build the ramp. Once the piling is finished and the ramp no longer required, the shingle will then be used to back-fill behind the piles, so there’s no extra cost in materials in creating the ramp.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 1The ramp is so high that the roller has to be lifted onto by the crane.

Flood Defences 4Rolling and compacting the shingle to take the 130 tonne crane.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 2Careful attention is taken by VolkerStevin to ensuring the levels are just right.

Littlehampton Flood Defences crane bridgeThe view from the Crane’s bridge, which gives you an idea of both it’s scale and height.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 3Preparations underway to ready both the ramp and the crane bridge.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 4No room for error as the crane is extremely close to the edge.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 5Crane ready to begin its climb.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 6One of VolkerStevin’s engineers gets ready to give the go-ahead.

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane climb 1Everyone holds their breath as the crane begins its climb but then the engine stalls leading to some lighthearted banter. The crane is reversed up so as to allow the rear weights take the strain (these are the red blocks at the rear of the crane)

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane climb 2Initial attempts fail as the crane’s heavy duty tracks dig into the aggregate and it’s unable to climb.

Crushing sleepers 1Some sleepers are laid to give the tracks more purchase.

crushing sleepers 2However, these are quickly turned into wood chip.

crushing sleepers 3This time more sleepers are laid, but at a different angle. Will they be enough to allow the crane to begin its climb?

crushing sleepers 4Initially it looks as if they’re going to go the same way as their predecessors..

Crane almost there 1But the plan works and the crane begins its climb.

crane almost there 2Almost there.

crane almost there 3Continuing the climb.

crane almost there 5Hanging in the balance. The awful moments when the crane is about to go beyond the point of no return. You’d have to have been there to appreciate the creaking and banging noises, hence the guys all looking upwards.. (I have a video of the whole event which I’ll shortly upload to the Diaries)

success crane on rampA success! The crane is safely in its new position on the recently constructed crane platform. Everyone was impressed with the skill of the crane driver, who made what looked like a near impossible task easy.

Littlehampton Sea Defences crane driverThis man’s skill was amazing.

crane on the rampThe crane in position ready to start the piling works in Pier Road.

So what happens now?

Earlier I caught up with Eric Smethurst, VolkerStevin’s Public Liaison manager.

Eric explained that the crane will now begin piling works in Pier Road. While this is going on, a second bridge will put into position ahead of the existing bridge and the crane will simply drive forward onto this new section when it’s completed. The section the crane was on will then be placed forward of this section and so forth – so essentially ‘leap-frogging’ along Pier Road until all the piling is completed.

It’s an amazing sight. There’s no doubt about it that the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences is now entering an exciting phase. Lots to see, especially in Pier Road, which will now become a hive of activity.

So If you haven’t been down to see the works already – now is a good time.

This is one of two cranes that are now working on the construction of Littlehampton’s Flood Defences. The second crane is currently working in Arun Parade and this is the bigger of the two cranes weighing in a massive 160 tonnes.

If you’re visiting – Remember that (at the moment at least) you can park free in the Windmill Car Park, courtesy of Arun District Council provided you are a customer of a business in Pier Road.

So come down, grab a bite to eat and enjoy the view.

Make sure you keep up to date with the Pier Road Diaries by entering signing up for regular updates. Just enter your email address in the box on the top right hand side of this page just below the twitter feed.

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As always, thank you for reading and joining us.

We welcome your comments.

The Sea Defences are delayed because: “We don’t have enough Welders…”

One of a number of reasons given by the contractor for the ongoing delay in the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences is – the lack of Welders.

With a £14 million sea defence contract you’d imagine that with that sort of budget, you could afford to hire a few decent welders.

Apparently not, it seems as a lack of welders is being blamed as one of the reasons for the ongoing delays in completion of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences.

This and the more worrying fact that VolkerStevin (and/or consulting engineers associated with the project) have managed to seriously underestimate the strength of Pier Road to take their crane.

It appears that the original surveys of Pier Road were fundamentally flawed and where they originally concluded that the road was strong enough to stand the crane on ‘crane mats’,  they’ve now subsequently discovered that the road isn’t strong enough to do this.

And if they had gone ahead with their original plan, they explained this would potentially lead to: ” a catastrophic slip circle failure of the existing structure.”

Roughly translated –  Pier Road could potentially slide into the River Arun.

Not exactly encouraging confidence.

However the good news is that Dutch engineering giant VolkerStevin have now figured out a way of getting themselves quite literally out of a hole by building a specially adapted ‘crane bridge’ on which to sit their crane during the piling works.

And the costs of this unexpected creation – a staggering £400,00.

So, how’s work going on building this bridge?

In a scene reminiscent  of something from ‘Death of a Salesman‘, I watched and listened as VolkerStevin’s Site Manager explained that their welders had walked off the job. ‘I’m not running a labour camp,’ he explained to the astonished meeting. ‘We can’t just keep them there,’ he said exasperated.

And why did they walk off the job?

“They weren’t happy with the conditions…”

Further revelations in response to questions from Pier Road Traders revealed that VolkerStevin have only, and this is an approximation, 20 people actually working onsite.

Remember we’re talking a budget of £14 million here. Actually £14m plus the £400k overspend as someone got their calculations seriously wrong.

It was then brought to their attention that all of these welding woes could have been avoided had VolkerStevin employed Littlehampton’s own reliable  Littlehampton Welding company, which enjoys an enviable reputation worldwide.

And it just so happens this superb company’s HQ is located just a few steps from VolkerStevin’s site office in Littlehampton harbour.

There’s no explanation as to why Littlehampton Welding weren’t used, but I find it unacceptable that with £14 million being spent on this project, a local Littlehampton company were not used and we’re left at the mercy of unhappy welders who simply walk off site.

So, at the moment, there’s no piling work being undertaken in Pier Road as we’re still waiting for this bridge to be built.

As you’d expect VolkerStevin brochure is full of the sort of corporate bullshit you’d expect from big companies like these.

Announcing on the front page of their website  – ‘clever engineering’. (but apparently not clever enough to spot what is obvious to even the seagulls that Pier Road has an appalling road surface and has been crumbling away for years – something that the traders from Pier Road highlighted to their ‘clever engineers’ when we met during the consultation process.

“VolkerStevin provides complex engineering solutions across a wide range of sectors including civil engineering, land remediation and regeneration, water and marine infrastructure and flood and coastal protection.”

Conveniently on page 7 of the VolkerStevin brochure they declare: ‘SET US A CHALLENGE’

Here’s one guys – find a welding company in Littlehampton – clue – they’re right next to your site offices.

You couldn’t make this sort of stuff up.

This may actually beat’s Arun District Councillor’s Paul Dendle’s hilarious declaration via Twitter, where he ‘announced there were no material delays with the scheme and we’d be finished on target in July.

This when the Project team had already announced they were four weeks behind, and this announcement came six weeks prior to Councillor Dendle’s announcement….

Incidentally, despite, as I’ve been led to believe being invited to this meeting, Councillor Dendle didn’t attend and neither were apologies or any explanation offered. This from Arun District Council’s Flood Defence Chief.

I wonder if he’s any good at welding?

 

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