Across the UK, councils are being encouraged by the Government to develop plans to provide more space for people so that they can socially distance as the lockdown is eased. Government funding is available to enable these plans to be implemented.
Arundel is a small town but it receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Even though the August Festival is cancelled, visitor numbers may be even higher this year with fewer people taking foreign holidays. We know that social distancing is a challenge on narrow historic pavements. Stepping into the road to socially distance is dangerous since the High Street has become a short-cut on the A27. By chance we had available an ‘oven ready’ plan which meant that we would quickly be able to implement a temporary pedestrianisation of the east side of the High Street, from the Norfolk Arms down to Pallant of Arundel. This would have provided 500% more safe space for people coming into the Town Centre from Mill Road. A second safety measure envisaged was to close that part of Tarrant Street frequented by visitors for part of the day on Saturday and Sunday.
Arun District Council had received a Government grant and were prepared to provide Arundel with funding to implement the scheme. The aim was to move very rapidly and to get these safety measures in place in June. Normal consultation processes were not possible because of the ‘lockdown’.
It’s now clear that amongst both residents and businesses, opinions are polarised on this project in its current form. Under those circumstances we will not be able to secure the necessary approval from West Sussex County Council. The working group therefore have decided to discontinue this project in its current form, but will continue to look at all alternative ways to keep Arundel safe this summer.
From the feedback received, there is some clear interest in finding ways to reduce the dominance of the car in the Town Centre.
Project Phoenix Working Group
17th June 2020