The design of a £13 million project to revamp Hove seafront with a park, sports pitches and a café is due to be decided by councillors next week.
They are being asked to grant planning permission for the Kingsway to the Sea scheme, part-funded with £9.5 million from the government’s Levelling Up Fund.
Councillors and officials hope that the project will transform the Western Lawns between the King Alfred Leisure Centre and Hove Lagoon.
The plans include an events space, gardens, a new skate park, a pump track, tennis and padel tennis courts and sand sports pitches, suitable for sports such as beach volleyball.
They also include new seafront buildings – a pavilion for tennis and padel tennis players and an “outdoor sports hub”.
The outdoor sports hub would include a clubhouse, bar and changing rooms, replacing the old bowling clubhouse building, as well as a café and toilets for the public.
The scheme also includes an extension to the toilets at the Big Beach Café at Hove Lagoon to provide a “changing places” toilet suitable for people with disabilities.
Most of the scheme’s costs will be covered by the £9.5 million government grant but £1.2 million will come from “contributions” paid by developers as a condition of their planning permission.
A further £300,000 will be drawn from money set aside by Brighton and Hove City Council to refurbish public toilets – and the council plans to borrow the rest.
Not everyone has welcomed the scheme. The council has received 48 letters objecting to the plans. Objectors’ concerns included noise and anti-social behaviour – and dog walkers wanted to keep a rough patch of grass for walking their pets.
Campaigners presented a petition to try to save the former pitch and putt site which has been earmarked for the skate park and pump track, catering for bike and scooter riders and skaters. The petitioners wanted the area to be “rewilded” but their plea was rejected.
One objector, whose details were redacted by the council, said: “I object to the scheme’s skateboard park, bike pump track and roller blade track at the old pitch and putt course, primarily due to the loss of green space, noise and increase in traffic which is opposite a residential area.
“Many use the area for dog walking and multiple other non-proscribed activities.
“These activities should be situated in an area which is not directly overlooked by residents in flats.”
Another objector, whose details were also redacted, said: “(It’s an) irresponsible way of spending money under the current economic climate. Priority should be given to maintain what we have across the Brighton and Hove seafront.
“(The) council has already let the tennis courts go in disrepair to further the agenda of this monstrous, not ecology-friendly project. This is a disgraceful manipulation.”
But supporters outnumbered objectors, with 129 letters in favour of the scheme, praising its design and the variety of uses.
One supporter, whose details were redacted by the council, said: “This will make a great improvement to the area and provide a fantastic resource for the community – children and adults alike.
“Good to see green spaces considered. Please ensure the pump track remains in the proposals and table tennis is included.”
Another anonymous supporter said: “As a member of the beach sports community in Brighton, I really hope the sand sports area will have floodlighting so we can play and develop the sport all year round, that secure storage space next to the court will be present for equipment which users of the space can share and that there might be the potential to put a bubble over the courts during the winter months.”
Officials have recommended the scheme for approval at the next meeting of the council’s Planning Committee.
The committee is due meet at Hove Town Hall at 2pm on Wednesday 7 December and the meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.
If approved, the first phase of work is expected to start next year, with the council hoping to complete the project by early summer in 2024.
LIKE WHAT WE DO? HELP US TO DO MORE OF IT BY DONATING HERE.