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Regeneration vote not due until next year

DEVELOPERS behind an £80m regeneration scheme in Bognor Regis have been told to wait.


The Sir Richard Hotham Project has been put on hold by Arun District Council in its bid to get permission to redevelop the town’s Hothamton car park and Regis Centre sites.


Councillors agreed at their meeting on Wednesday they would not decide whether to give permission as the sites’ owner for the ambitious scheme until well into next year.


The outcome – agreed without a debate – means the project, led by chief executive Thomas Elliott will be delayed regardless of any success it has in gaining planning permission from Arun for its proposals.


Cllr Gillian Brown, Arun’s leader, told the full council meeting it was too soon to consider third party initiatives until feasibility studies into regeneration for the council had been completed.


“Consultants have recently been appointed to carry out the studies for the redevelopment of the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites agreed by the full council,” she said. “The consultants’ report is expected to be concluded by around February 2017.


“Once they have been received, and officers have had the chance to consider their conclusions, a further report will be brought back to full council recommending how and when the delivery of the actions set out by the full council can be achieved.


“It would be premature to enter into a binding agreement with a third party by the full council.


“The consultants’ work has to be carried out leading the full council to come to its decision on how the regeneration of Bognor Regis can be achieved.”


The vote is a further setback to the Sir Richard Project’s vision of a transformation of both key sites funded by private investors. For the Regis Centre, it envisages a 65,000sq ft boardwalk with leisure facilities like a spa and a gym plus shops, restaurants and bars.


There will also be 59-bedroom hotel and 192 apartments. A plaza for outdoor entertainments and events will be provided as well.


The Hothamton site, off Queensway, will be the location for a 1,100-seat theatre with conference and exhibition facilities, a 48-room hotel and two shops. The project’s initial plan was rejected by Arun as local planning authority, for four reasons, and as landowner.


This has led the project to submit a revised scheme to overcome the planning objections. Its planning agent, Susan Leeson, says with the latest application: “The whole package will greatly improve the economic viability and vitality if the town centre by attracting new investment.”


It is not yet known when Arun will make a decision about granting planning approval. But that decision will be governed by the planning merits of the scheme based on government rules.


It will be separate from the council’s role as landowner when its strategy for a specific area and the need to get best value for public land are among the matters to be considered. Arun is also looking at developing the sites with a bigger theatre for the Regis Centre site and student flats at Hothamton.


A report to the council meeting by Arun’s deputy chief executive, Nigel Croad, stated: “The council is aware of more than one group who are keen to undertake development on these sites. Some of these groups have been prepared to wait patiently for the council to undertake the feasibility studies.”

Posted in Local Developments, News.