Councillors have shared enthusiastic support for a £2.5m funding bid to help transform Littlehampton town centre.
Arun District Council will find out within the next couple of months if its bid to the Coastal Communities Fund has been successful.
A previous bid, for £4.9m, was rejected by the government in early 2017.
With fingers no doubt crossed for good news this time, members of the cabinet have authorised the project, should the money come through.
The money would be spent on improving the way the High Street area of the town centre connects with the riverside and seafront – currently seen as ‘dated, poorly laid out and uncoordinated’.
The project aims to create ‘intuitive’ pedestrian routes and transform the area into a place in which people would be keen to stay.
There would be new paving, lighting, planting and street furniture.
A report to the cabinet said that, if the bid was successful, it would be matched with money from other public and private funds, taking the total to £3.3m.
The report said the town was ‘struggling’, especially since Waitrose left town for nearby Rustington.
The number of empty shops was rising and retail trading across the country was ‘the harshest in living memory’.
While some small-scale work, such as providing grants to improve shop fronts, had been carried out, the report added that the transformation of the town centre would require ‘large scale investment’.
One point of concern was raised by Dr James Walsh (Lib Dem, Beach).
While strongly supporting the bid, Dr Walsh pointed out that the report being approved by the cabinet included the loss of the town centre clock tower – a suggestion which had proved unpopular with residents.
Mr Walsh was assured by Trevor Bence (Con, Aldwick East) that there would be ‘plenty of opportunity for the people of Littlehampton to express their wants needs and desires’.
Mike Clayden (Con, East Preston) said: “I think it’s a great idea. We’ve got to go for these bids when we get the opportunity.
“There is going to be a risk factor in it but I’m sure we’ll put in an extremely good bid which will show we mean business.”