Council claims it listened to public views on seafront garden redevelopment

Changes to the seafront - including the Oasis garden - look set to begin in June.

Rother District Council is moving forward with its controversial scheme to develop the stretch between Sackville roundabout and Devonshire Road but claims it has paid attention to public opinion by tweaking its plan.

The Marina Court Garden project - as it is now called - will go ahead with details agreed by the Bexhill Town Centre Steering Group having examined 180 responses from the public following an exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion

The RDC scheme runs alongside a highway and pedestrian improvement scheme being developed by East Sussex County Council.

Chairman Cllr Brian Kentfield said: “We considered and discussed thoroughly the arguments by residents who didn’t want to see change and those who felt the scheme was positive for Bexhill.”

Agreed alterations to the original Marina Court Garden design include additional planting, reduction in size of the walkway, more grass and extra seating.

“It is important to create an attractive public space to help improve links between the seafront and town centre,” Cllr Kentfield added. “We appreciate all the comments we received, negative and positive, which will enable us to move forward with a scheme that will benefit Bexhill.”

There was support in the feedback for featuring the Civilian War Dead Memorial, the Rotary Club’s coin collector, and provision of cycling stands. There was also approval for moving the recycling bins and improved signage.

The results of the consultation on ESCC’s highway and pedestrian improvement works were also presented to the Town Centre Steering Group and included potential changes to the design to take account of the feedback. When finalised, these will be presented for consideration.

Cllr Deirdre Williams - the first to raise the alarm over the changes - argues if RDC listened it would not go ahead with the scheme at all, and highlighted concerns about the “huge” cost.

She said: “What I said in the first place was absolutely correct - the garden as we know it is going. The council has compromised a little but the fact is there were more people against it that were for it. The whole consultation was a joke. They were never going to take any notice of it and they haven’t really, except perhaps on the Marina and the crossing.”

Objector Ron Storkey felt reducing the width of the walkway and increasing grass and seating will “undoubtedly please those residents who were upset by the original proposal...If the authors of the original draft proposal really have taken into account the antagonism engendered amongst many residents, then well done RDC and thank you ESCC for your consultation exercise that may just have provoked second thoughts.”