HOPES are high a creative digital hub will open in Bognor Regis’ transformed railway station this summer.
An initial former agreement to create the focal point for businesses using the opportunities of the digital world has been signed. Southern Railway and West Sussex County Council have committed to the heads of term deal for the lease.
Further talks are going well to finalise the lease to change the empty space into the enterprise centre with an ultra-fast internet connection. Detailed design work is well underway.
Southern and Gatwick Express’ passenger services director Angie Doll said: “The station is at the centre of the whole community and the creative digital hub gives us the opportunity to use the space effectively with the county council to help businesses and start-up business, in particular.
“It is a fantastic opporunity for local entrepreneurs. We are planning for it to be open this summer.”
County council leader Cllr Louise Goldsmith: “This is a fantastic step forward for Bognor Regis and another piece in the jigsaw of years of hard work of developing Bognor Regis as a place which nurtures innovation and supports businesses and creativity.”
News about the hub’s progress came as a ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of the £2.5m scheme to give the station the biggest makeover since it opened in 1902.
The work has brought the present into the past by paying homage to the landmark’s Edwardian heritage and its status as a Grade II-listed building. Its listing was achieved in 1989 by Bognor Regis resident Greg Burt, below right, when the building was set to be replaced.
Renovating the station was a joint project between Southern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway, Arun District Council, Network Rail and the Railway Heritage Trust.
Other major changes have included:
* A regenerated square outside the station and new canopy
* New windows, concourse floor and brickwork
* New ticket office designed to match the former bookshop
* New cafe, taxi office and newsagents
* The first waiting room for many years
* New customer information screens and signs
* A heritage-style barrier between concourse and platforms
* Better station lighting and upgraded CCTV for improved security
Lucinda Valentine, Network Rail’s scheme sponsor, said: “The work at Bognor Regis station is a shining example of the rail industry working in partnership with other organisations to deliver a better, more modern railway for passengers while have also protected railway heritage.”