During the last few days we have had abundant feedback on the proposal to make Arundel safer during the visitor season by creating more space for people in the Town Centre. Thank you to everyone who has shared their thinking with us, and the working group will be discussing this feedback with Arundel Town Councillors before moving forward.
This project is a way of dealing with a pandemic, the like of which we have not seen in our life-time. Circumstances and urgency have made the normal consultation processes impossible.
Visitor numbers are increasing, and social distancing is impossible on the narrow pavements of our Town Centre. Walking in the road is dangerous because our High Street is a short-cut on the A27. The intention is to create more people space, so that residents and visitors are safer in our town centre this summer. It is a temporary change to address a dangerous situation. We will review the working of this temporary change at the end of the summer.
We are not alone. Many similar schemes are being developed, both in Sussex and in other towns in the UK, to achieve the same goals. Government funding has been made available to County and District councils to provide more space for people on foot and more cycle paths. Arundel has been allocated funds for this Town Centre project.
Arundel was busy this weekend, even whilst most shops were closed. Now with more shops opening from 15th June, with pubs and restaurants expected to follow in July, visitor numbers will increase.
For this reason, a plan has been developed to:
- Create a pedestrian area on the east (castle) side of the High Street between the entrance to the Norfolk Arms to Pallant. Over six times greater than the existing area.
- Close off Tarrant Street to traffic on Saturdays and Sundays (10.00am-4.00pm) from the High Street to Brewery Hill.
Our vision is to provide tables where people can enjoy safe alfresco dining from the many businesses offering take-away menus.
Discussions have been held with Arun District Council and West Sussex County Council on how this scheme can be implemented. Clearly arrangements will have to be made for parking and for deliveries to shops and bars/restaurants. All these details will be worked through with residents and businesses during the next stages.
In early May residents were expressing a wish that we would “close the town down” for their safety during this visitor season. We cannot do that, but what we can do is to try and make the Town Centre safer.
In the Summer edition of The Bell, Dr Thornton-Smith comments that West Sussex has not been as badly affected by Coronavirus as some other areas, and, whilst it is impossible to say why, he suggests that one possible reason for our good fortune may have been our “better ability to socially distance”. This project has been conceived to help some degree of social distancing to continue.
Working Group on Project Phoenix, 15th June 2020