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Sainsburys: A new face for Bognor Regis' gateway

Sainsbury's is set to submit formal plans for its return to Bognor Regis by Christmas.

The retailer's proposals for a store on part of the former Lec site are so far advanced that a detailed planning application is nearly finalised.

This will be given to Arun District Council within the next six weeks to decide. If the scheme is approved, the 55,000sq ft store could be welcoming its first customers in 2010.

This will provide a dramatic change in appearance for probably the most important entrance to Bognor by car and train.

The current derelict buildings sandwiched between the A29 Shripney Road and the railway line have been empty for four years and will be replaced by a development which Sainsbury's promises will reflect its importance to the town and its regeneration.

Maria Twomey, a spokeswoman for the company, said: "The site is in desperate need of renovation, being a key gateway in the town. It's widely recognised that it needs improvement, which we can achieve."

Sainsbury's hopes of returning to Bognor after an absence of eighteen-and-a-half years was revealed in the Observer last month.

Ms Twomey continued: "The Lec site is very much more suitable for our needs than any other we have looked at.

"It's big enough for us, it has a development brief where retail use has been accepted in principle by the council and it's a brownfield (previously developed) site.

"Bognor is a densely-populated town and its green spaces are precious and ought to be protected, so they were ruled out."

The proposed store would be sited where Lec's deteriorating former technical office block – with its smashed windows – stands at the southern end of the one-time industrial location.

The intended store would be the same size as Sainsbury's at Chichester, before work began to extend it, and slightly smaller than Tesco on Shripney Road.

It would have 7,000sq ft more selling space than the Asda store proposed for further north along the A29 at Oldlands Farm.

Sainsbury's would concentrate on selling mainly food but would also feature a petrol filling station.

Some 400 full and part-time jobs would be provided in the new outlet. Everyone who worked there would be covered by Sainsbury's commitment to helping its employees achieve nationally- recognised qualifications.

About 600 parking spaces have been included in the proposals. Talks with highways officers at West Sussex County Council about the required access were set to finish soon, she explained.

The store will occupy about eight acres of the new development envisaged for the location. The remaining 2.45 acres on the northern portion have been set aside by landowner Sime Darby London Ltd for commercial use.

n A public exhibition next week at the Regis Centre in Belmont Street will be staged on Thursday and Friday between 4pm and 6pm. and From 10am to 2pm on Saturday.

The company was also signing up to a charter which promoted local people for jobs involved with the building's construction.

About 600 parking spaces have been included in the proposals. Talks with highways officers at West Sussex County Council about the required access were set to finish soon, she explained.

The store will occupy about eight acres of the new development envisaged for the location. The remaining 2.45 acres on the northern portion have been set aside by landowner Sime Darby London Ltd for commercial use.

This could be an enterprise centre for fledging businesses or for a couple of specific uses. No housing is included in the plans in keeping Sime Darby's pledge to use the land for Bognor's benefit.

An outline planning application for the commercial uses will be submitted to the district council alongside the Sainsbury's proposals.

Have your say

An exhibition will give residents the chance to comment about Sainsbury's return to Bognor Regis.

The display is being staged by the company and Sime Darby London Ltd on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (November 20, 21 and 22).

The plans will be on display in the Regis Centre in Belmont Street between 4pm and 8pm on the first two days and from 10am until 2pm on the final day. Representatives from both firms will be present.

Sime Darby London Ltd director Raof Daud explained that he hoped people would continue the level of interest they had previously shown in the site's development.

"It is now important that residents are given the opportunity to see more detailed plans as we move to delivering on the content of the brief and making the regeneration of this site a reality."

Max Whitehand, the regional development executive at Sainsbury's, added: "We can now offer a choice in Bognor Regis' future supermarket provision and it is important that people know what is being proposed."

A public exhibition next week at the Regis Centre in Belmont Street will be staged on Thursday and Friday between 4pm and 6pm. and From 10am to 2pm on Saturday.

The plans will be on display in the Regis Centre in Belmont Street between 4pm and 8pm on the first two days and from 10am until 2pm on the final day. Representatives from both firms will be present.

Sime Darby London Ltd director Raof Daud explained that he hoped people would continue the level of interest they had previously shown in the site's development.

"It is now important that residents are given the opportunity to see more detailed plans as we move to delivering on the content of the brief and making the regeneration of this site a reality."

Max Whitehand, the regional development executive at Sainsbury's, added: "We can now offer a choice in Bognor Regis' future supermarket provision and it is important that people know what is being proposed."

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