Transforming Coastal Towns: Improving life by the sea

Arun District Council has partnered with LUC to work on ambitious schemes to revitalise Bognor Regis and Littlehampton. We’re working to reconnect town centres, strengthen communities, and address the impacts of climate change. Our teams are using innovative, informed and sensitive urban design and town planning to transform these seaside towns and help them thrive.

A child in a park

The towns of Bognor Regis and Littlehampton were once thriving seaside resorts, however, they both faced a decline with the shift from domestic to overseas tourism (see our recent piece about the decline of our coastal towns).

Place St Maur

A £1.5m post-Covid grant transformed Place St Maur – an underused and deteriorating seafront space into a vibrant, welcoming and diverse space for visitors.

Virtual consultations using our bespoke visualisation software and virtual spaces allowed community input during the pandemic.  LUC embraced the main objectives of creating a place to connect the town centre with the seafront, improve pedestrian access, and create a high-quality, welcoming, flexible space for outdoor events to attract both tourists and residents.  Our stakeholder consultations inspired us to redesign the space to incorporate coastal planting, hard landscaping and drainage, soft landscape areas, engaging water play features, lighting, and seating. Our design choices drew on the rich character and environment of Bognor’s seafront to complement the town’s identity.

A playground with bright colours

We were conscious to include considerations in our designs that fostered social cohesion, physical activity, biodiversity, and climate mitigation. The scheme has taken an important step forward in helping to regenerate Bognor Regis by activating the public realm and encouraging visitors to spend more time in the town. Improvements to the space have provided a catalyst for business regeneration nearby and created a European-like café culture, complemented by atmospheric festoon lighting and water displays for evening socialising.

It has been quite a year but with a fantastic project achieved along the way. The scheme has given the space such a lift and even with the fountains now off for the winter it is visually so much more appealing.

Rachel Alderson
Project Manager, Arun District Council

Bognor Regis Sunken Gardens

The gardens provide important outdoor access for nearby residents but previously suffered from long-term decline and anti-social behaviour.  LUC carried out a wide-ranging public consultation with stakeholders from the community and the local authority to ensure that improvements aligned with community needs.

Our regeneration plans focused on improving safety and security, landscape and play enhancement, access and inclusivity, and biodiversity.  Our designs are sympathetic to the surrounding area and grounded in principles of sustainability, promoting refurbishing existing play equipment, and reusing site-won materials. The brightly coloured surfacing and naturalised planting capture the coastal character and provide a fun and uplifting space.  

Accessibility has been improved through the introduction of a new southern entrance, the resurfacing of existing paths, and the installation of inclusive play equipment. An area of wildflower meadow and new tree planting have improved biodiversity, and a sensory area incorporates carved timber animals as part of an activity trail for children.

The regenerated gardens were reopened in June 2023 and local families are already benefiting from their improved access to green space and the chance to be physically active. Improved accessibility and visibility have increased visitors and helped to discourage anti-social activities.

Littlehampton

In Littlehampton, LUC is spearheading a masterplan, commissioned by Arun District Council with £7.2m from Levelling-Up funds. The plan aims to transform underused open spaces near the beach into a recreation hub, complete with improved foreshore and public toilet facilities adjacent to the seafront promenade.

Due for completion in 2025, our plans will create a series of high-quality, functional outdoor spaces, providing a richer and more pleasant environment to encourage visitors and stimulate further business opportunities. Our designs will help foster community pride and create spaces for a variety of outdoor activities such as picnicking, water play and games. 

Connecting places and communities

These coastal regeneration projects demonstrate that strategic urban planning can reinvigorate local businesses and address climate change. With more of a focus on staycations post-Brexit and pandemic, as well as pressing environmental concerns, these hard-hit towns are adapting to evolving resident and tourist needs. LUC's approach demonstrates that post-Covid recovery can be both economically and socially conscious, resulting in environmentally sustainable designs.

Water jets lit up
Image courtesy of Paul Wells

Shifting the Paradigm

Recognising the need to reshape coastal spaces, LUC emphasises multifunctionality. While attracting tourists remains crucial, these spaces must also prioritise residents’ needs, connectivity, outdoor access, comfort, and sustainability. LUC's diverse planning and design services cater to these evolving needs, providing a blueprint for the future of coastal town regeneration.

As Bognor Regis and Littlehampton continue to undergo transformative changes, it is evident that thoughtful urban planning and investment can revive coastal towns, making them resilient to economic shifts and responsive to the pressing challenges of our time.

 

For more information on our work transforming coastal places:

www.landuse.co.uk/news/black-rock-brighton-boardwalk-beachworks/

www.landuse.co.uk/news/luc-completes-management-plan-for-brightons-royal-pavilion-garden/

www.landuse.co.uk/news/luc-sussex-level-brighton/

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