TRADERS in Bognor Regis have warned regeneration plans could turn it into a ghost town.
The Bognor Regis Traders’ Association said it had serious concerns about parking in the current proposals put forward by St Modwen and backed by Arun District Council.
Chris Heaps, the association’s chairman, said on Tuesday the group was worried too few spaces would be left after the Regis Centre and Hothamton car parks had been redeveloped.
“Losing two car parks will seriously undermine the viability of the town-centre retail experience in the town, unless a sustainable solution is found before any plans are approved.
“Car parking is an essential element of any town-centre retail experience and, if people can’t park, they will abandon the town centre for other towns where they can park or out-of-town retail parks.
“This would create the very real risk of Bognor becoming a ghost town.”
The association was extremely concerned the council seemed to be pushing through plans for development on the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites without having a solution to the car parking that would be lost through the development, he said.
“In my opinion, Arun and St Modwen have yet to come up with a suitable solution to this critical issue.
“The aim of the regeneration project is to increase the number of visitors to Bognor.
“So, we will need more parking spaces, not less,” said Mr Heaps.
The group’s protest about the £40m plan is the latest criticism of the shortage of parking which the current scheme will create.
The 215 spaces at Hothamton, off Queensway, will shrink to some 60 and the Regis Centre’s 187 spaces will go down to a few dozen. This is to enable Hothamton to be built upon for some 200 flats.
For the Regis Centre, the plan is expand the Alexandra Theatre and create a new wrap-around design which will include a multiplex, arcade of shops, cafes and bars.
Arun’s leader, Gillian Brown, has agreed more parking will be needed.
This was shown when the council’s Bognor Regis regeneration subcommittee last week agreed any final approval was subject to a satisfactory and sustainable solution to current and future parking being found.