Sea change for Bexhill is hailed a winner by Rother council
IT may not yet be quite the weather for it, but Rother District Council is basking in success already achieved by its Bexhill seafront project, Next Wave.
The £5.6 million scheme aimed at rejuvenating the West Parade and helping to regenerate Bexhill itself, is now - bar a few last-minute glitches - the finished article.
No one can please all the people all of the time, and in the years it has taken to move from concept to reality it has attracted its fair share of controversy.
Four futuristically-styled shelters incorporated in the design have proved one of the most contentious features, roundly attacked by critics as ugly and unfit for purpose.
Also a target for discontent in some quarters has been the choice of shrubs for the seafront hedge and question marks over the safety of youngsters’ play areas.
But despite the brickbats, Rother has also attracted bouquets for its vision in bringing Next Wave to fruition.
This week it announced that the scheme had been named overall winner of the Local Government News public space award, as well as being commended in several other categories.
It had also been highly commended in the Landscape Institute Awards, and placed on final shortlists in both the Sussex Heritage Trust and Institute of Civil Engineering Awards.
Increased tourist numbers and a Royal visit had added further kudos to the scheme.
A council spokesman said: “The hedge is just one element of a hugely successful planting project that has won major awards and gained numerous compliments.
“We would encourage people to pay a visit to the truly beautiful new seafront gardens, especially in the spring and summer months when the wild flowers are in bloom.”
“We are, of course, disappointed with the hedge and it will be replaced - but it is just a small part of an otherwise really successful scheme.”
The council says it shares public frustration that the Colonnade restaurant hasn’t opened because of water ingress, noting: “It simply isn’t good enough.”
But upbeat again, it adds: “People should not forget the terrible state of repair the Colonnade was in, and how our extensive refurbishment has preserved a much-loved Grade II listed building that would otherwise have been lost or would have cost more to fix.”
Other issues, such as weathering to the shelters and wear to rendering, are being fixed as a matter of urgency within the coming weeks .
The council spokesman said: “As a scheme of this scale beds in over a harsh winter, issues will emerge and we’re having them corrected right now.
“The vast majority of these corrections to the scheme will not cost the council or the tax payer anything as they are included within the contractual arrangements.”
Next Wave was funded with the help of a £1 million grant from the Commission for Architecture and the Environment (CABE) and is part of a regeneration package which includes a refurbished and extended Bexhill Museum, a rejuvenated Egerton Park and a £3.5 million scheme to develop the commercial potential of the former Sidley railway goods yard.
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Weather for Bexhill-on-Sea
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: West