New objections to more flats along Bognor Regis seafront were among the decisions made at an historic council meeting.
Members of Bognor Regis Town Council’s planning committee took part in its first virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 6 – and used the occasion to maintain their opposition to the development of flats on the prominent site.
The session via an online platform was possible after the government changed the law to enable official meetings to be held outside the council chamber as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.
But the councillors maintained their opposition from a traditional meeting earlier this year to the proposals for the former Beach Hotel site opposite the pier.
They believed the amended plans, while an improvement, would still create a large and intrusive modern buildin, and that the design was not ‘in keeping’ with the area.
Cllr John Erskine said that whilst he felt it was a lot better than the original plans, and he would like to see something built on the site. The improvements ‘did not go far enough’, he stated.
Cllr Smith expressed the view that it was ‘redevelopment and not regeneration’.
“That is a prime space of land on our seafront…that’s an ideal piece of land for somebody to do something to bring people to Bognor,” he said.
The committee’s chairman, Cllr Steve Goodheart, backed the plans. He stated that he strongly believed the derelict land should be redeveloped or it could stand empty for many years.
The current scheme has seen the number of flats above a ground-floor commercial use reduced from 49 to 35, off-street parking provided, the basement level removed and more architectural features, such as bays and canopies, added.
Another decision in the ground-breaking meeting saw members unanimously object to proposals to change the former Aldwick House care home into 38 bedsits.
They cited a lack of parking around the Nyewood Lane building, over-development, and concerns about crime, litter and refuse collection, and general access.
Cllr Alison Sharples said that encouraging more houses in multiple occupation (HMO) would not be beneficial for the area in general.
“I think there is a big concern about parking issues, It’s in my area and I know there are not parking spaces to be had.
“I have got concerns about emergency vehicle access because there would be a lot of cars around there,” she said.
She also called for two and three-bedroomed properties to be created rather than additional smaller accommodation.
Cllr Goodheart echoed her comments. He would support a formal policy to prevent further conversions of large properties to HMOs in the area, he added, because of their potential to create problems with noise and anti-social behaviour.
The committee’s objections will be sent to Arun District Council to consider when it makes the final decisions at a date yet to be announced.