Councillors have voted through cuts totalling more than £4 million to the Kingsway to the Sea project on Hove seafront.

They agreed to scrap some children’s play equipment, a sand sports area and the resurfacing of existing north-south paths to bring the project back within budget.

Other changes include seeding lawns rather than turfing them, using cheaper plants and using cheaper materials for paths which will be narrower than originally planned.

The new Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Bella Sankey, ruled out extra borrowing after contractors priced the project at £16.6 million compared with a budget of £12.7 million.

The Argus: Cllr Bella Sankey

A report to councillors said: “Construction costs nationally have increased significantly since inception of the project.

“The council has seen increased sub-contractor costs on all construction projects due to the lack of availability of goods and labour.

“Allowances for inflation were factored into early cost plans, based on industry market rates. However, the scale of construction inflation (being) experienced now is unprecedented and beyond the early budget expectations.”

The report set out 18 features of the project to be scrapped or revised as part of a cost-saving drive.

Councillor Sankey said that if funding could be found, it might be possible to go ahead with some of the features that were currently due to be shelved.

She told a meeting at Hove Town Hall yesterday (Thursday 22 June): “We are very confident as an administration that this can still be delivered to a really excellent standard.

“It’s a very exciting project and a much-needed project. I believe it will be the first new park in the city for over 100 years.”

The council’s executive director for the economy, environment and culture, Donna Chisholm, spoke about the proposed changes to the scheme at the same meeting.

She told the council’s Strategy, Finance and City Regeneration Committee that construction could start quickly once changes were agreed to the project which was currently on hold.

Most of the project’s costs will be paid for with a £9.5 million grant from the government’s Levelling Up Fund. The money is meant to be spent by the end of next March.

The rest of the funding is due to come from existing council budgets for public toilets, developer contributions and borrowing.

The project is intended to revive the stretch of land between the A259 Kingsway and the sea from the King Alfred leisure centre to Hove Lagoon.

The plans include a sports building with a café and toilets, new sports courts, an outdoor sports hub building, a new skate park, pump track, roller rink and gardens.

Green councillor Sue Shanks asked why the sports hub building was being retained in the revised scheme.

She said that it was among the least popular elements, according to a public consultation, and it was in an area that was already well served by cafés.

Mrs Chisholm said that the new building would replace the old bowls club premises which was reaching the end of its useful life.

The hub would also include “Changing Places” toilets and a disability room which would be a quiet safe space.

She said: “We know that is something that disability groups have requested on the seafront. This building gives us the opportunity to have something purpose-built.

“The outdoor sports hub is one of the main spaces asked for and provides security and long-term support for the bowls club.

“The café element is deliberately targeted to a family and easy access demographic – different to the facilities around it.”

Labour councillor Julie Cattell, who represents Westbourne and Poets Corner, raised concerns about removing some items from the scheme, including ducting for electrical cables and lighting.

She said: “Is there an opportunity to revisit some of the suggestions for omissions?

“My feeling is removing the ducting from the electricity cable and removing the lighting … I’m not sure that’s a good thing to do. We can’t dig up the ground and put more cables in.”

Mrs Chisholm said that councillors would be consulted along with the West Hove Seafront Action Group about the proposals – and any “revised position” would come back to the committee which is due to meet on Thursday 13 July.

The 18 proposed cuts to the project also include leaving unchanged the sunken garden by Rockwater and a proposed event space near the King Alfred and cutting out pathways and outdoor furniture.

Conservative leader Alistair McNair asked whether his former colleague, the late Garry Peltzer Dunn, would still be commemorated within the project.

Until his death last year, Councillor Peltzer Dunn represented Wish ward in Hove which includes the western half of the scheme. Councillor Sankey won his old seat at the subsequent by-election.

She reiterated the pledge made by the former Green council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty that the long-serving councillor would be remembered.