Arundel Plan. Love Arundel.
There is a lot going on in Arundel that people often don’t hear about.
It’s incredibly beautiful, rich in history, in heritage, and a unique setting as a great place to visit as a gateway to the South Downs, Goodwood or trips to the sea-side which are less than 10 minutes away.
Arundel was not designed for cars yet they now dominate our town. There is a 20 minute speed limit that isn’t enforced. People are frustrated with parking, and concerned about pedestrian safety – especially for young people getting around and travelling to school.
Residents want a Town Plan for parking with pragmatic solutions that work for residents, workers and visitors alike. We should consider every parking space in town, time limits, charges and discount schemes for workers and regular users.
We are lucky to have direct train access to London. However local journeys to Chichester, Brighton and Littlehampton are a different story – all require changes and waiting around, making it difficult for our young people and Arundel’s workers to get about. Getting to the stations is also an issue. Top of the list is a safe foot/cycle path from town to Ford station and a safe path to Arundel station without having to repeatedly cross the road. We want to make the town generally more pedestrian and cycle friendly.
A Greener & Cleaner welcome
We all love our beautiful town, and sharing it with friends and visitors, but we are embarrassed by our public toilets and annoyed about dog poo on our pavements. We want to show more civic pride and be more welcoming with:
Thoughtful planting of the roundabouts, town centre and community spaces in our residential areas, including creating wildlife friendly habitats
More recycling and dog poo bins, with fines for dog owners who don’t pick up
A community Spring Clean event and improved public toilets
More benches and picnic tables in the town centre, along the river and in the park
Ways to bring our heritage alive visually with trails, sculptures and art
Getting into town more frequently
We miss the old shops and services, but most recognise our shopping habits have changed. We like having pubs and restaurants, but our High Street must evolve and we need to encourage more people into town. Residents see an opportunity for more variety, including a wine bar, gastropub, and contemporary food options like organic, vegan, juice bars, street food etc. What we have now is all quite similar.
There is a belief that extending the Castle season, opening the top gate coupled with more consistent, reliable shop opening times would attract more customers onto the High Street.
Residents want more reasons to come into town and have ideas like grow the Farmers Market and add new markets, plus a programme of varied, smaller events across the year, involving some temporary pedestrianisation.
The Arundel Festival and Arundel by Candlelight are valued but need to evolve. As events become more important and complex, there is agreement that our town needs paid Town Management resource to support our volunteers and help make all this happen.
Gateway to the South Downs National Park and Arun Valley
There is a feeling that we don’t make the most of our wonderful setting – the South Downs, the River Arun, and our closeness to the sea. Residents want to get outdoors more and suggest improved access for walks and rides. Ideas include a ‘piste’ map highlighting routes and difficulty levels and structured social activities like parkrun, walking and cycling events for all abilities.
Residents believe we should make much more of the river and Arun Valley, and become a great gateway to the South Downs National Park. This would attract visitors and create new business opportunities like boat/kayak/bike hire and boost existing town businesses.
Making the most of our iconic buildings and facilities
There is concern that some of our iconic buildings are falling into disrepair, due to lack of funding and use. The Victoria Institute, library, derelict barn by the roundabout, even the Town Hall, Lido and others would benefit Arundel more if they were improved and/or used more.
There are plenty of things we want! A community centre, gym, indoor sports hall, children’s nursery, and an indoor/covered event space for all-year-round activity. So, we need to get the owners/trustees round the table and thrash out an overall plan that matches our community needs with the right buildings.
Residents also think our town needs a high-end quality hotel, a good restaurant on the river and maybe a ‘glampsite’ and camper van facilities.
There is a feeling that landlords could be more engaged and accountable for how buildings are used and maintained.
The McColl’s window was singled out as an ugly misfit in Arundel. It is.
Building an Action Plan
This review has identified fantastic opportunities and lots of ideas for Arundel, some of which are simpler to implement than others.
Each will need funding and leadership to make it happen. Some things are entirely within the gift of local residents, businesses and Arundel Town Council to work on and deliver. Our Council has already adopted some ideas into their objectives for 20/21 which is a great start.
Getting the more complex things done requires a joined-up effort from different tiers of government (Arundel Town Council, Arun District Council, West Sussex County Council, our new MP Andrew Griffith) and landowners/guardians such as the South Downs National Park, the Duke and the estates.
We now need to prioritise what needs to happen and mobilise the right people to get things done. In the coming months, we will share our findings with relevant officers from each of the above to raise awareness and ask for commitment to a collaborative action plan.
Arundel Town Council will need to play a leading role, but we must remember our town councillors are unpaid volunteers, many of whom have full-time jobs. So, other resident and business volunteers will also need to step forward to help if we are to deliver the big ideas.