A £40m scheme to bring up to 1,000 jobs to Bognor Regis has been approved.
The Salt Box development north of Rowan Way received unanimous backing from councillors this week.
The commercial estate’s first occupier will be the baker, Warburton’s, with a distribution depot and offices with 135 jobs.
Work on the site is set to start next year. It is expected to be 2024 before all the buildings are complete.
But the decision by Arun District Council’s development control committee meant the hopes of Bersted parish councillors of a link road through the estate to connect the two halves of the Bognor Regis northern relief road have been dismissed.
But Paul Hanson, a director of applicant Landlink Estates, said: “This proposal has the potential to bring £40m of capital investment to create over 30,000sq m of new employment space/
“In turn, that will lead to the creation of more than 500 jobs, may be as many as 1,000.
“We really want Salt Box to be a place where people want to come and visit. That’s why we have created an hotel, a pub, a gym and hot food facilities as part of the site.”
Committee members welcomed the application.
Cllr Dawn Hall (C, Pagham) said: “This is exactly what Bognor Regis needs. We are always saying we need more local jobs and, with the (housing) developments that are coming along, we need people to have jobs in this area and not to out-commute.”
Committee vice-chairman Cllr Phil Hitchins (C, Aldwick W) said: “This is a good application and very good for Bognor Regis with the jobs it creates. We need more and more jobs in Bognor Regis. I feel we will be silly if we don’t accept it as it is.”
Cllr Stephen Haymes (C, Yapton) also welcomed the proposal. “This site has been identified by Arun as employment land for many years,” he said. “The development and the jobs it will create are a welcome boost to the economy and the locality.”
But Cllr Paul Wells (LD, Hotham) said the new jobs should not divert attention from the fact the development would place further pressure on the roads around the site.
“There is a level of concern locally with the road infrastructure issues that exist in and around the area.
“When the relief road opened, I’m not sure we expected the amount of traffic that would drop down from the A27 to use that road to get to Chichester. There has been an impact on that particular junction which has caused massive problems at Rowan Way, especially exiting some of the stores along there.
“A lot more work needs to be done with the highways authority about future provision in that area of the town to make sure we mitigate any future problems that are going to exist,” he said.
Cllr Sue Bence (C, Bersted) also warned about the volume of traffic. “Rowan Way is extremely busy now. It is likely to get busier and busier. We want this development but it will add more traffic,” she said.
The application by Landlink Estates was in two parts over 12 hectares of top grade farmland north of the Rowan Park Caravan Club site and opposite the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars centre with an access off the relief road roundabout on the A29.
The first section sought full planning approval for the Warburton’s depot, car parking and access roads from Shripney Road. This is due to be built by 2019.
The second part was an outline proposal for the rest of the site to be built from 2020 to 2024.
This involved an 80-bed hotel, a pub, two drive-thru restaurants, a gym and four further units for offices and light industrial uses and extensions for two of those units.
Bersted Parish Council member Cllr Paul Ralph said the development was welcomed but the extra traffic would cause further problems for the surrounding roads.
“The volume of increased private and commercial traffic from the Salt Box will impact severely on the relief road roundabout and the junction of the A29/Rowan Way and further exacerbate the tailbacks many experience on a daily basis,” he said.
His fellow parish councillor, Gill Yeates, said that, while the new jobs were welcomed, they fell short of the expectations generated when the land was earmarked by Arun for employment use as part of its Enterprise Bognor Regis initiative.