Littlehampton improvements could include ultra-fast broadband cables

Tuesday, 29 March 2022 06:00

By Jessica Hubbard - Local Democracy Reporter

Ultra fast broadband could soon be added to the list of improvements in Littlehampton’s town centre.

The £6 million public realm improvements which cover the pedestrianised High Street and town centre roads, could help to enable ultra fast fibre broadband if extra costs are approved by the council.

Arun District Council’s policy and finance committee will decide whether or not to approve an extra £240,000 at a meeting on Thursday (March 31) – something that would more than double the council’s contribution.

This would go towards ‘fibre ducting’ which would provide the infrastructure needed for future connections to ultra fast internet for homes and businesses.

Ducting is sunk into the ground so the public realm improvements – which started in January – are an ideal opportunity to put it in place. Fibre cables could then be inserted at a later date, without having to disturb the newly laid surfaces.

In a report before the policy and finance committee, the council’s director of place, Karl Roberts, said: “‘As CityFibre have not begun work in the Littlehampton area yet, we asked them to accelerate their design for the Littlehampton Town Centre at the end of 2021 to try and ensure work could be undertaken at the same time as the Littlehampton Town Centre improvement works.”

Mr Roberts said the easiest way to ensure future connectivity was for the council to ‘take ownership’ of the ducting, adding that parts of the existing telecoms network would not support ultra fast broadband.

Contractors Edburton have already started the ducting work ‘in good faith’ due to the need to fit the new infrastructure at the same time as the public realm works.

The £240,000 could be met from under-spends in the council’s current budget and future rental agreements with fibre providers could offset some of the cost.

Alternative options include waiting another five years for installation or the town centre being cut off from the fibre broadband network. The project so far. The Littlehampton public realm improvements began in January and are estimated to cost £6 million.

The first two phases are being funded by the government’s Coastal Communities Fund (£2.45 million), the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund (£564,000), and a £200,000 contribution from both Arun District Council and Littlehampton Town Council.
Earlier this month, West Sussex County Council agreed to spend £1.25 million on improvement works between the railway station and town centre, at Terminus Road, as part of the project.

Overall, the scheme aims to make the area more attractive to visitors and more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.
 

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