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Firms line up to buy Royal Norfolk

Potential buyers are queuing up spend about £3m on the premier private hotel in Bognor Regis.

Three or four consortia have expressed a serious interest in taking over the three-star Royal Norfolk Hotel.

The level of enthusiasm for the historic grade two listed building means it is likely to have a new owner in early 2009. The Rev Kevin Swadling, the hotel's managing director, said: "There's no doubt in my mind that the hotel will be sold.

"The potential buyers are very keen and I am hopeful it will be bought well within a year. I am pretty confident it will happen in the next three to four months."

Mr Swadling is also the founder of the hotel's current owner, the Christ for the Nations UK charity. It formally put the building and its some 40 staff up for sale late last month, as reported.

The decision came some four-and-a-half years after the charity took on the 1840s building with its distinctive white frontage which creates an iconic view from the seafront.

Christ for the Nations has combined the traditional tourism business, with between 23 and 40-plus rooms depending on the season, with using the building as a bible studies centre and its office base.

But the amount of time needed to keep the hotel attracting guests rather than being devoted to the religious work means the decision was made to sell.

Almost 1m has been spent on renovation during the charity's ownership.

"I think we have restored the hotel towards its former glory," said Mr Swadling. "But it still needs a little bit of work on it.

"We will be leaving a great legacy for the people who take it on after us to build upon.

Christ for the Nations UK will be moved into the former St Michael's and All Angels Church in West Meads.

Contracts have been exchanged with the church authorities. A completion date of next September has been set for the purchase.

This allows Christ for the Nations time to sell the hotel and one of its two properties in Rustington to finance the purchase.

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