A launch event for the Bognor Regis Creative Hub heard that digital can, and should be, used to change the narrative of a town.
Guest speaker Matt Desmier, from Think Create Do, used the story of Bournemouth’s transformation from ‘a retirement capital to the country’s fastest-growing technology cluster’ to inspire the launch night’s attendees.
He said: “The seven miles of golden beaches aren’t going anywhere, the fact it is a tourist destination isn’t going to go anywhere - it is about telling people that something else is going on.
“I’ve managed to change people’s perspective about what this place is capable of.”
During the Q&A session which followed he admitted that he ‘absolutely’ saw Bognor as being capable to follow suit.
He added: “Maybe it is a scaled down version but it is about having the confidence to change the impression of the town.”
Matt explained, like Bournemouth, the town had the benefit of being commutable to London but separate from the city.
“The distance means the competitive element is removed,” he said. “People from London are surprised we have so many high level members of staff attend our events when they wouldn’t be seen dead in the same pub in the city.”
His advice was to ‘keep pushing’ and he warned ‘it is not overnight, it is has taken six or seven years’.
The event, held at Oxford’s Bar on the high street last night (November 15), also provided an update from West Sussex County Council’s Anne De Sausmarez in regards to the plans for the hub at the railway station.
She said: “Designs are with the architects to work it up into a workable plan.
“We are hoping by the end of the year we will be able to go out to tender to bring in someone to run the space.
“Lease negotiations are probably going to take a while and we need to get the business case together to put to our board - we hope it will be sometime in the first half of the year.”
The event saw the results from a survey about views and ideas for the hub space shared for the first time (see infographics).
The project, a partnership between Wired Sussex and West Sussex County Council (WSCC), is to create a collaborative work and event space in Bognor Regis. It is part of the council’s long-term plans to develop a digital creative community in the town.
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