Man in one of England’s driest towns says it has ‘its own micro climate’

·3 min read

Businesses which rely on water are relieved at being excluded from the hosepipe ban in one of the driest areas in England.

The Met Office has issued an amber heat warning running between Thursday and Sunday, which could see temperatures peak at 36C across southern England and eastern Wales.

The news comes as a hosepipe ban comes into force across parts of Kent and Sussex on Friday.

Bognor Regis, a coastal town in West Sussex, is not one of the areas which falls under the ban.

Pete Cook, manager of Chalcroft Nurseries near Bognor Regis is not surprised the town is one of the driest in England
Pete Cook, manager of Chalcroft Nurseries near Bognor Regis is not surprised the town is one of the driest in England (PA)

Research from the Met Office found that Bognor Regis has experienced less than 250mm of rain since November 2021 – one of the 10 towns in England with the least rain.

In contrast, on a county level, the average annual rain fall in West Sussex is 891mm.

Pete Cook has been manager of Chalcroft Nurseries on the outskirts of Bognor Regis for 13 years and has lived in the town his whole life.

He was not surprised the town has had some of the lowest rainfall in England and says he believes Bognor Regis almost has its own “micro climate”.

Mr Cook said it takes three to four hours to water all of the plants in his nursery each day – and that water is essential to his business.

A couple sitting on chairs while sunbathing on an empty Bognor Regis beach with the sea in the background, west Sussex
Research from the Met Office found that Bognor Regis has experienced less than 250mm of rain since November 2021 (Peter Lane/Alamy/PA)

He said: “Watering is to stop the stock from wilting because if it wilts it’s unsellable until it’s rehydrated – or if it’s a severe case of damage to the plant, you’ve lost stock.

“Plants need water just like humans do.

“(At) this time of year, our guys will be out watering before it gets warm and last thing in the evening. We can’t water in the middle of the day as you have to be careful to only hit the soil, not the foliage or flowers.

“If the foliage or flowers get wet during the day they end up dried out and crispy and they won’t sell.”

Discussing how the recent hot weather and the coronavirus pandemic affected his trade, Mr Cook said: “Customers’ buying habits change. People only come in first thing in the morning or last thing at night, and a lot of our customers are over 60 and they don’t like to come out in the hot weather.

“We’re also less busy during the school holidays.

Pete Cook, manager of Chalcroft Nurseries near Bognor Regis is not surprised the town is one of the driest in England
People can still water their gardens with watering cans (PA)

“Since Covid, a lot of people have developed green fingers, thinking they’re stuck in the house with nothing to do so they might as well go into the garden. Lots of people started coming to us during Covid, including more younger people who still shop with us now.

“A hosepipe ban doesn’t stop people watering their gardens, they just have to use a watering can. So we’re going to see the watering can coming back into fashion.

“I’m not surprised Bognor Regis is one of the driest places in England – people come here for the sunshine, it’s like a micro climate here, the sea is warm for a few months of the year and it’s becoming quite a nice place to be.”