Local community champion Dan Thompson reacted angrily today as details emerged of the proposed £300,000 spend on Worthing’s Active Beach Zone. The plans include £90,000 on a new public art space and £40,000 on refurbishing 10 beach chalets.
The public art space is in the “gap” caused by the demolition of the upper walkway during constructing the new Splashpoint swimming pool. In harmony with the art theme the 10 beach chalets are planned as art studios. This follows an initial trial of 5 beach chalets similarly refurbished which the council describes as very successful. There are currently 45 on the waiting list.
Mr Thompson who runs the East Beach Group advises ABIR architects came up with an earlier proposal as part of Revolutionary Arts ‘Pop Up People’ project.
ABIR architects proposed three things, all aiming to increase the use of East Beach and build a wider group of users for the area.
1. Increased disabled access, with two huts converted for disabled use.
2. A number of the huts being available for hire by-the-day, with a pop-up kit inside which means they can be beach huts, meeting rooms, gallery space or used for parties.
3. Creating two temporary pods which would sit either end of the bridge, making an extra gallery space for a year or so.
Worthing Borough Council has seen the ideas but Dan believes they dismissed them.
Dan Thompson said: “Beach hut holders (I am one) haven’t been told we are being kicked out… some consultation would have been nice. The area will suffer from a mass of single use. What is needed is a diverse group of users – studios, huts for families and so on. That is what the East Beach Group will campaign for.”
The £300,000 granted to Worthing by West Sussex County Council in December 2011 was part of £15 million kickstart funding for new projects with district and boroughs. The main criteria of the investment fund are to create and maintain jobs and support the local economy.
Dan Thompson was the creator of the clean up campaign after the riots in 2011 and is an empty shops guru.