Butlin’s cuts chalets to obey planning rule

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BUTLIN’S is to cut its number of guest bedrooms at its Bognor Regis site.

Nine rooms at the holiday resort are set to be changed to accommodate staff members to take the reduction of rooms in the past year to 244.

This matches the number of bedrooms in the year-old Wave hotel. It fulfils a planning requirement on Butlin’s imposed by Arun District Council when it allowed the hotel to be built to ensure it did not cause extra traffic to be generated by visitors.

The changes have involved the partial demolition of four rows of guest chalets with 235 bedrooms and will create more than 200 parking spaces when they are finished.

Resort director Jeremy Pardey told Felpham parish councillors on July 9 nine rooms were kept empty for emergencies to mean the resort had always been within the bed numbers stated in its lease.

Further changes have seen outdated staff rooms demolished to create further parking spaces. This work will be completed next week.

“This will move team accommodation away from our neighbours. That has to be better for my team and the neighbours,” he said.

It will also stop a repeat of the situation at the peak booking times of last February and Easter with staff parking on greenswards around Butlin’s because of a lack of spaces in the site.

Cllr Paul English, the parish council’s chairman, said: “Rumour has it staff were told to vacant the area so guests could have more room to park. That started off so many complaints coming in to the parish council.”

Mr Pardey said the reduction in team rooms from 860 to 540 in a year resulted from his desire for more local recruits.

“Knocking down the chalets stops managers recruiting people who don’t live locally because they have not got a bedroom to put them in.

“I want to recruit more local people. I would rather that than people from around the UK and Eastern Europe. That’s something I have always stated.

“I want to give local people good career opportunities.”

This policy has seen 420 local people recruited this year – an increase of 180 on a year ago.

Cllr Mary Harvey said: “That has to be good thing.”

Bognor town mayor Cllr Paul Wells, who was at the meeting, said: “This has to be positive. I welcome it wholeheartedly.”

The meeting took place after the parish council’s June meeting, reported in the Observer, criticised Butlin’s for having too many bedrooms.

Cllr Graham Matthews, who led the criticism, said it was based on the facts when he questioned the situation with the district council.

Cian Cronin, Arun’s planning officer who deals with Butlin’s, was also at Tuesday’s meeting to detail the company’s recent planning history.