Business park could cement Bognor as ‘employment centre’

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DEVELOPMENT of a key business site could transform Bognor Regis into a ‘major employment centre’, property experts have claimed.

Planning permission for a business park on land at Oldland Farm, Bersted, was granted by Arun District Council’s development control committee last Wednesday.

The park would be the second phase of the Enterprise Bognor Regis project – the council’s grand vision for bringing more employment to the town.

David Martin, of commercial property agents Stiles Harold Williams, said: “I believe strongly that there is a real opportunity for Bognor to cement its place as a major employment centre.

“The arrival of Rolls Royce is a catalyst. It will help attract businesses from further afield but it requires mixed consent to offer flexibility to businesses.”

The application offered two different choices. Option one was for 11 ‘B2’ general industrial units. Option two proposed a mix of ‘B2’ and B8 storage and distribution uses.

The latter was preferred by developers Hanbury, as it provided ‘flexibility’ to enable units to be filled.

But sticking to ‘B2’ use was favoured by Bognor Regis Regeneration Board, the council’s economic regeneration team and the Coastal West Sussex partnership.

Representations from the board highlighted how Arun’s initial vision for the site was for an advanced manufacturing plant, which would generate 1,100 jobs.

It argued option two reduced the number and quality of jobs available – stating there was a ‘real risk it will develop into a warehouse park’.

The committee ultimately agreed, approving option one. Hanbury would need to return to the committee if it was unsuccessful in attracting enough ‘B2’ use.

Cabinet member for planning and infrastructure Ricky Bower said the application was ‘good news’ but Hanbury needed to ‘test the water’ for ‘B2’ demand first.

He joked that he risked causing a ‘family squabble’ with his wife, councillor Philippa Bower, who felt the developers should be given the flexibility they had requested in option two.