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A third Butlins hotel is planned for Bognor Regis

Initial work has begun on a third Butlins hotel in Bognor Regis.

The board of directors of the holiday firm's parent company, Bourne Leisure, has agreed to spend 250,000 on the research.

Butlins' managing director Richard Bates said the money would be spent on exploring architectural and planning options for the further tourism boost to the town.

"That is quite a commitment to make in this economic day and age. This research will give us an idea of where we are going in Bognor. It will make sure we get the product right," he said.

He told Tuesday's meeting of Bognor Regis Civic Society: "The next thing we will build is a modular Travelodge-style hotel for about 200 people.

"It's likely to be no more than two storeys, but that will depend on things like planning and the economy. Local people, as always, will have the chance to comment on our proposals through the planning system."

Mr Bates said new self-catering accommodation was also likely to feature in the redevelopment of the seafront site in the coming decade.

Most of the six new buildings which can be seen on a 'masterplan' for the site, which has caused concern around Felpham because of its scale of development, he identified as being for that style of accommodation.

"The future of Butlins is not just about hotels. Self-catering apartments are also important to us. There is a huge demand for them," he said.

"But there is no existing plan for redevelopment of the site in the next five years. We have ideas but we need to be quite fluid about what we build. Whether we go up five, six or seven storeys will depend on the planning authority."

But he stressed replacement of much of the guest-room accommodation was a priority. Two out of every three of the chalets on the site were built in 1960 and 1961. They were no longer good enough for modern holidaymakers.

That meant the huge investment in Bognor – easily topping 40m in the past five years – would continue.

"Bourne Leisure has spent more on Bognor than on the other two Butlins' sites – at Skegness and Minehead – combined, even though they are twice the size. I am hugely supportive of that and long may it continue," he said.

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