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Student flats to boost town

A near £3m annual spending injection into Bognor Regis has been agreed.


Two separate schemes for 280 student beds around the town received planning permission this week.


It has been stated previously each student at the University of Chichester brings in £10,000 a year to the town.


The smaller of the accommodation blocks will be built on top of the Wilko store between Bedford Street and the London Road precinct.


Developer Vahnea Marolda Investments will build six storeys on top of the existing roof to provide up to 104 bed spaces in 28 flats. This will create the highest structure in Bedford Street above the Fitzleet multi-storey car park on top of Morrisons.


It was only approved by the casting vote of Arun District Council’s development control committee chairman, Cllr Jamie Bennett (LD. Rustington W), after its members’ votes were tied 7-7.


Committee member Cllr Elaine Stainton (C, Felpham W) said she was aghast at the scheme. “It’s an over-development. It’s all out of context. It’s terrible,” she said. “To me, it’s absolutely ludricious, it really is. I can’t believe this has come forward. It’s too high. Words fail me, to be quite honest.”


Cllr Martin Lury (LD, Bersted) said: “It is going to ruin what is left of Bedford Street. This is one hell of a carbuncle in the middle of Bognor Regis.


“It’s not the location. It’s the size of what is being proposed. It’s clearly over-development and out of scale.”


Fellow Lib Dem Bersted councillor, Gill Yeates said: “This is an innovative concept but I agree it is out of scale.”


But Cllr John Charles (C, Barnham) said: “I don’t think there is anything wrong with this at all. We definitely need student accommodation. It’s a good idea.”


Orchard Lib Dem Cllr Francis Oppler earlier told the committee: “This is six storeys high and, in my view, would forever change the look of the town centre of Bognor Regis and almost certainly not for the better. With the exception of Fitzleet House, the buildings in the town are generally of the same height.


“In the 50-60 years since Fitzleet House was built, no other development has come close to its height. Even now, it’s not keeping with the rest of the area.”


But Charlotte Grant, Vahnea Marolda’s planning consultant, said: “My client is an independent operator of student accommodation and has chosen this site due to its central location.


“It is close to key amenities, away from residential accommodation but close to public transport and with good access to the university.”


The smaller scheme will provide 176 student bedrooms on land at the eastern side of the university’s campus.


It will be built and managed by the university and has been designed to complement the engineering and digital technology park next door. The committee approved the plans without any debate.


David Steele, a director of the university’s architects Stride Treglown, said: “The university is expanding, which is good news for the local economy and they need the accommodation to support the development of their academic courses.”


Bognor Regis Regeneration Board says the university’s presence will pump £69m a year into Bognor Regis when the expansion is complete and an extra 1,200-1,500 students almost double its economic impact.

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