Pier Road is written by freelance writer and Littlehampton business owner, Paul Power
The Diaries began their life in August 2012 when Paul’s business, the Littlehampton Dutch Bike Shop was based in Pier Road, Littlehampton. At this time, the local councils and the Environment Agency were undertaking consultations with local business owners and residents prior to the building of a new sea defence wall for Pier Road and Arun Parade, Littlehampton.
Local business owners were very concerned at how little regard Arun District Council and the Environment Agency seemed to have for the survival of businesses during the proposed works. There were lots of areas that were not being addressed – such as compensation packages to keep businesses going while their road and pavements were closed and also the actual design of the new sea defences and the proposed new public realm.
The Pier Road Diaries covers the period prior to the building of the wall and public realm and throughout the build. There’s some terrific pictures on the blog of the wall being built, buildings being lifted and moved, cranes atop large scaffolding walkways.
There are also details of the ongoing frustrations of the traders/business owners and residents.
The project ran seriously overtime – from initial forecasts of 6 months to completition – it was completed in 2 years with the final part taking another 2 years to resolve. The budget going from £11m to a believed £22.5m. I say believed, as neither the Environment Agency or local authorities will actually confirm just how much it all costs – and, with life being so short, I have given up asking.
Impact of the ‘regeneration scheme’ on Pier Road.
As was forseen by the traders, there is little positive outcome that has come about as a result of the new wall and public realm. Ironically, despite spending over £22.5m on new flood defences for Pier Road, the Environment Agency still classify Pier Road as the same high flood risk as it was prior to the works taking place.
The local council, Arun District Council repeatedly have refused planning consents for ground floor residential occupation in Pier Road for new developments.
A number of businesses have closed or been forced to move out since the works were completed. My own business, which had traded successfully in Pier Road for over a decade was find new premises when our landlords sold the buildings we occupied to a property developer.
The Dutch Bike Shop is now based in Anchor Springs, where thankfully, we continue to trade successfully against a backdrop of retail failures.
Arun District Council;s own flagship restaurant/cafe/heritage centre/tourism offices, which were run under contract by a Trust, went into liqudation at the end of 2018 despite, supposedly cash-strapped Arun giving them over £20,000 in bailout to keep them afloat.
One of the common criticisms by Arun District Councils senior officers of Pier Road businesses – was that a number were stuck in a time warp, one even having plastic seating stuck to the floor….
Ironically, this business and others are still trading successfully while the multi-million Arun District Council’s flagship Look and Sea! has gone bankrupt.
For the period of 2018, I have mostly taken a break from blogging and the Diaries haven’t had much updating. I’ve now decided to return to blogging about Littlehampton and other things which interest me, but I do stress that the views expressed in this blog are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by business owners or residents living in Pier Road.
With every best wish and thank for your reading.
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Pier Road is located in Littlehampton, West Sussex.
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