A NEW pub/restaurant is planned to replace the last vestiges of one of the biggest companies in Bognor Regis.
Dicentra Developments has applied for outline planning permission to build the eating and drinking venue on the site of Widdowson House.
The three-storey brick building on the A29 is the final reminder of the former Lec Refigeration factory’s original site, which was on the eastern side of the A29 Shripney Road for some six decades.
The building is being demolished to clear its site of 0.33 hectares. A statement by WYG Planning on behalf of Dicentra Developments states: “The Widdowson Building was constructed around 1984 by Lec Refrigeration as a sheet metal spray shop, although it was never used for that purpose.
“It is a building of bespoke design, constructed for a particular purpose, and not easily adapted for general use.
“The building had reached the end of its design life and, due to its configuration, appearance and condition, it would be very unlikely that the building could be re-let. Its demolition creates a cleared site for a new use.”
Lec Refrigeration was a major fridge and freezer manufacturer started in Bognor. It employed up to 1,500 employees into the nineties and was making some 300,000 units a year in the mid-1990s.
In 1997, it claimed to be number two in the UK market but overseas competition eroded its sales in spite of a £35m computerised factory.
The company was bought by Glen Dimplex in 2005 and production of domestic fridges was moved away that August. Specialist fridges continued to be made by 2007 when the factory shut. Polestar Cooling carried on that tradition but the company moved from the Widdowson Building last February to the Southern Cross Industrial Estate.
WYG’s information makes no mention of an intended occupier of the proposed pub/restaurant. But it states the premises will have 24 full-time employees and a gross internal area of 678sq m.
There will also be 47 parking spaces, three for disabled drivers and ten for cyclists.
“At a time when many public houses are closing for viability reasons and are being converted to new uses, this proposed public house/restaurant on Shripney Road, in an area of mixed retail, leisure and business uses, and also with residential development nearby, will significantly enhance both the site and the immediate vicinity,” says WYG.
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