Developer calls Bognor regeneration ‘a redevelopment of a car park at the end of the day’

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A development expert says the issue with Bognor Regis’ regeneration is scale.

“It is a redevelopment of a car park at the end of the day,” said Steve Culpitt, development manager of Seaward Properties. “With added benefits if possible.”

Mr Culpitt expressed his belief the result ‘will be a much smaller scale and more piecemeal, with projects done with the market can support it’.

The proposal submitted by Seaward Properties is a call to go back to basics and the grass roots of community.

Mr Culpitt said: “Let’s go back to stage one. Let’s look at what the people want. Then the landowners, then the bigger picture.”

Mr Culpitt states similar scale investment to that currently being discussed for the seafront could make a big difference elsewhere.

“If we put the £600k in to the theatre then… wow. Places like Guildhall get great bands in, perhaps we need to look towards the younger generation.”

Mr Culpitt sees two options for progression. On the first, large scale proposals, he said: “Unfortunately, and I know the locals won’t like it, it has to be driven by residential. Or the other way is Arun says we have what we have, let’s work on a small scale, let’s spend money on the theatre, work with what we have got.

He added: “If the other projects can prove the viability, great, that is excellent news, as long as the community is brought along for the ride.”

Viability is also a huge concern, one Mr Culpitt admitted ‘is why we didn’t put a plan forward’.

He added the ‘commercial viability report’ the company undertook for the project was ‘interesting’.

“If you look at the other towns that have been regenerated, it doesn’t happen overnight. And if you look at the ones that have done well it is because they have already got a reason to go there.”

This footfall is why Mr Culpitt stated the likes of Chichester and Gunwharf can host the volume of restaurants they do.

He said: “You can’t make it more than it is. I could get an architect in who would draw the most beautiful picture but it wouldn’t work, it is about the framework.”

Locally Seaward’s projects include Eastgate Square.

It illustrates some aspirations in regeneration plans for Bognor Regis combining big brand eateries with independent business.