Help needed to fill empty space

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TWO property landlords in Bognor Regis want to help a project to fill empty buildings.

The companies have expressed an interest in helping a pilot project by the University of Chichester to make the town centre thrive again.

Their willingness to take part in the initiative to regenerate the central area has been welcomed by Arun District Council’s senior economic development officer, Anthony Everitt.

“These landlords are willing to let their space to be used as a model for other landlords to follow. This is a very encouraging sign,” he said.

The university began its study because of the amount of commercial property around central Bognor which is unused.

This could be filled by a variety of purposes from business incubators to pop-up shops.

An interim report led by Gareth Sears – of the university’s school of enterprise, management and leadership – was given to the latest meeting of Arun’s Bognor regeneration subcommittee.

Mr Everitt said they had reported on several reasons why it was difficult to let the shops and offices.

One was the unwillingness of the landlords to reduce their rents because this would lead them to write-down the value of the property in their accounts.

Another was the influence of absentee landlords and their lack of interest in one shop in Bognor among their tens of millions of pounds worth of property around the country.

The final report by the university about initiatives to reduce the amount of empty space should be completed this summer.