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Civic society opposes latest regeneration plans for town

CIVIC watchdogs in Bognor Regis have opposed the town’s latest regeneration plans. Bognor Regis Civic Society deputy chairman Hugh Coster said it was against the current version of the £80m scheme from the Sir Richard Hotham Project.

 

The proposal was essentially the same as the company’s previous ideas to redevelop the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites. “All in all, we do not believe this a regeneration scheme. It’s more a make money for the developer scheme – and the clue is in the number of flats.

 

“It’s a shame to have to say this, because there are some very good parts and a lot of work has gone into it. Unfortunately, we cannot separate the various parts. So, we will have to oppose it.”

 

The deadline set by Arun District Council for comments about the scheme was yesterday. The Sir Richard Hotham Project wants to create a boardwalk development on the Regis Centre site.

 

There will be a mix of retail, leisure and a hotel as well as 192 flats. That was counter to the views frequently expressed by residents in a 10,158 name petition and three consultations.

 

“So we would regard 192 flats to be over-development, to say the least. “In return for this, we get a pub and restaurant, a cafe, three offices, seven shops, a hotel and ‘leisure areas’, although it’s unclear who would operate these and how they would economically survive,” he said.

 

“Some still say we’ve got to have the flats to pay for the leisure – but 192 of them? This doesn’t seem like a very good deal to us.”

 

This would be included in a six storey building which would dwarf the neighbouring town hall. The price for this would be the loss of the Regis Centre, he said. That is intended to be replaced by a 1,100-seat theatre at the Hothamton site in a seven-storey complex.

 

Mr Coster said doubts existed about how the theatre would survive without any subsidy. “So whilst, on the face of it, a nice big theatre seems to be a great idea, we do not see how it could possibly work.

 

“And if we lose the Alexandra Theatre, because the applicants want to do that bit first, and then the 1,100-seater never gets built, what then?

 

“We do, in fact, have serious doubts as to whether this part of the application will ever be built. Or if it is, concern that it might turn into a multiplex cinema,” he said.

 

The current scheme comes after the original version was refused planning permission by Arun District Council for four reasons.

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