‘Disappointment’ at scaled down café for Worthing’s Brooklands Park

Councillors have expressed their disappointment at scaled down plans for a new  café in Worthing’s Brooklands Park.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 2:45 pm
Revised design for cafe in Brooklands Park

Permission was granted in May 2020 to demolish the existing building and replace it with a café, new toilets, a play area and bike storage (AWDM/0266/20).

But scaled down plans were approved at a planning meeting on Wednesday (November 24).

Brooklands Park’s new café will now be 50 square metres smaller but will have a changing places accessible toilet and 24 cycle parking spaces – an increase on the previous number.

Councillors ‘disappointed’ at new plans

Martin McCabe (Lab, Tarring) said the downsize was an ‘own goal’ for Worthing Borough Council.

Speaking during the planning meeting, Mr McCabe said: “It could have been a beacon couldn’t it?

“But it has been somewhat dimmed, I think it’s fair to say.”

The café has been described as a key element of the £3million Brooklands Park Masterplan which is set to transform the park.

Mr McCabe’s disappointment at the new plans was shared by other planning committee members.

Jim Deen (Lab, Central) said: “I recall this application very clearly from the last time it came around. 

“We were enormously impressed by the facilities that were being created and by the ground breaking nature of some of the features there. 

“That’s been lost and I very, very much regret that.”

Cost-saving

Officers said that financial reasons were one motivation for changing the plans.

“There always was a tight budget,” they said, adding that benefits would still come from regenerating the area with ‘extensive planting’ and ‘replacing a fairly awful existing cafe’.

Even so, Helen Silman (Lab, Heene) was ‘disappointed’ that some sustainable features – and in particular a ground source heat pump – would not be carried through from the original designs.

“Unless all that is going to be continued in this building, I’m very disinclined to feel enthusiastic about it,” she said.

Officers said that including a heat pump instead of a boiler would have ‘cost more than the building’.

They added that money saved by building out a scaled down design could be spent on other aspects of the park, such as the playground.

Other sustainable features such as solar panels and insulation are set to be included, say officers.

Committee chair Noel Atkins (Con, Salvington) pointed out that the ‘exponential increase’ in the cost of building materials could explain the need to ‘slim down’ the project.

Ms Silman said that increased costs ‘doesn’t necessitate the removal of state of the art sustainability features’.

“I think we [WBC] really let ourselves down, having passed the climate emergency,” she added.

“It’s just so disappointing.”

More details about the new plans can be found at the Worthing planning portal using reference: AWDM/1843/21.