A new seafront park in Hove has been approved unanimously by councillors at a meeting yesterday (Wednesday 7 December).
Brighton and Hove City Council has been granted planning permission for its £13 million Kingsway to the Sea project.
The scheme includes gardens, sports facilities and a café along the Western Lawns from just beyond the King Alfred to the Lagoon.
Most of the cost of the scheme should be covered by a £9.5 million government grant from the government’s Levelling Up Fund.
But £1.2 million is expected to come from “contributions” paid by developers as a condition of their planning permission, with £300,000 from money set aside by the council to refurbish public toilets. The council intends to borrow the rest.
Labour councillor Carmen Appich, who represents Westbourne ward, spoke in support of the project when the council’s Planning Committee considered the application yesterday.
Councillor Appich thanked residents for their input and singled out the late Conservative councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn, who represented Wish ward, for his enthusiasm for the project.
She said: “I understand there are and remain concerns from some … about the height of the new sports hub.
“I understand the building will be sensitively designed and of sufficient height and space to make a multi-functional area and to include appropriate changing facilities.
“I know some residents are concerned about the sports facilities but they work well together. These new sports facilities in this area are much needed.”
Susan Howard spoke for neighbours in the Aurum block of flats who were concerned about noise from the “sand sports” area and the potential adverse effects on the Sackville Gardens Conservation Area.
Ms Howard said: “We do not believe the scheme is in keeping with the Sackville Gardens Conservation Area, within which the sand sports area would be located.
“The gardens are specifically identified as having traditional appeal with buildings built deliberately to allow views of the beach.
“A 3.6m high steel fence with 6m high floodlights on until 10pm is unsuitable for this location, the most densely populated area of the city.”
She said that neighbours had pushed for an alternative location for the sand sports next to the events space where it is not overlooked by housing. But this was rejected.
Officers said that the proposed location was at a lower level and made the fencing “less prominent”.
The alternative site would also be next to the bowls club competition green which a neighbouring sand sports court might damage.
Labour councillor Clare Moonan, who represents Central Hove ward, was concerned about potential conflict between pedestrians and cyclists through the new unrestricted pathways in the park.
Cyclists are banned from riding along the footpaths crossing the Western Lawns and the southern beachside esplanade through a bylaw.
Councillor Moonan said: “I know from experience it is ignored all the time. We’re creating new east-west pathways through this beautiful new development, not restricted to cyclists, scooters, wheelchair users and rollerblades.
“It weaves in and out and might put people off, there are new cycling racks for people to lock up their bikes but we’re not managing that.
“I have a lot of casework about how dangerous it is for pedestrians along the seafront – older people and families with young children.
“I’ve walked along there and you suddenly have someone whistling past your head and it’s someone on a scooter that can go up to 30mph. It’s very dangerous. We need to beware.”
Council officials said that signs and painted alerts on the ground would alert cyclists when they have to dismount.
Green councillor Sue Shanks also praised the scheme but raised concerns about the potential affordability of the tennis and padel tennis courts.
She said: “It’s publicly owned and therefore I have an issue with making sure those spaces remain public spaces and prices are not set prohibitively expensive so young people can start to use those facilities.
“People use them and it’s a great facility. When we look at a management plan, that should be a consideration.”
Conservative councillor Carol Theobald said that she would have liked to see barbecue stands along the seafront to give an alternative to cooking on the beach but supported the plans.
She said: “It is a wonderful facility, with enhanced sports and leisure, especially the provision of sport.
“It’s a wonderful project for that part of the seafront. It certainly has needed something to happen there.”
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