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Plea fails to save town centre hotel

A bid to ensure guests can book into a hotel in Bognor Regis has been rejected.


Bognor Regis Town Council wanted plans to turn The Gables Hotel with eight bedrooms into four flats refused so it could provide holiday accommodation.


But Arun District Council’s development control committee backed their planning officer at last Wednesday’s meeting and permitted the conversion to go ahead.


Cllr Sandra Daniells, a town centre planning and licensing committee member, told Arun: “There is a real shortage of hotels in Bognor Regis but there is certainly plenty of flats.


“The town council is keen to preserve any existing tourist accommodation. As a boutique hotel, this could be a good commercial success.”


She said she was aware the building’s previous owner retired at the age of 85 in 2016 and had limited occupancy of the hotel in her final years there because of her advancing years.


“Bognor Regis is remarkably lacking in holiday property but there are so many flats, both existing and in the pipeline.”


The building’s location in Crescent Road was convenient for the seafront and public transport. It was also near the proposed Pavilion Park, she said.


But development committee member Cllr Elaine Stainton (C, Felpham W) said: “I don’t see why anyone would want to go to Bognor Regis town centre in that position.


“There is no car parking and it is not in a very good area, being opposite a car wash.


“We have got the Royal Norfolk Hotel and we have got Butlin’s accommodation and I think this would be ideal for four flats because there’s a need for accommodation. It would be ideal for young people or students who do not have cars.”


Cllr Jim Brooks (I, Marine) said a lack of tourism support from Arun could have been behind the decision of the applicant, Vine Works Ltd, to seek a residential use for the building.


“I very much regret the loss of this as a hotel. I very much it could be made into something really special,” he said. “But I don’t think the owners have got any faith in tourism in the local area.”


Cllr Pat Dillon (C, Pevensey) said: “I am sorry to see this go. I volunteer at the Regis Centre, where Arun has an information point, and we are forever being asked for B&B accommodation in the local area.


“To my knowledge, we only have three in and around that part of the town. This is going to be a great loss to the town.”


Arun planning officer Simon Davis said the council believed the hotel was last open ten years ago. The building had since been used as a house of multiple occupation.


He added: “The proposed conversion of this property is considered to represent an efficient use of urban land and does so without comprising the character/appearance of the existing building, the existing tourism offer of Bognor Regis, highway safety or the amenities of nearby residential occupiers.”

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