New ownership could scupper Bognor Regis multiplex plan

Multiplex plans for Bognor Regis appear to be dead after a cinema boss said it does not want to open in the town.

Vue Entertainment’s property director, Geoff Moore, told town resident Jan Cosgrove on Monday after its recent takeover of Apollo Cinemas, the preferred operator for the entertainment venue of up six screens: “I can confirm it is not our intention to develop a new multiplex in Bognor along with St Modwen.”

Mr Cosgrove said: “I’m not surprised. It was always clear to me at least that Apollo were over-extended and there was considerable doubt to carry this project through to a conclusion.”

St Modwen identified Apollo as the most likely operator of the new multiplex in March. The cinema, which would also screen live shows and sports, would be the mainstay of the proposed multi-million pound regeneration of the Regis Centre.

But Apollo was bought for £20m by the much larger Vue two weeks ago, seemingly throwing the plans into disarray some three months before firm proposals for the seafront site are due to be put to the public.

Mr Cosgrove said: “This is a botched situation. It’s time for Arun to stop being so arrogant about this matter and to clearly ask local people what they want and to work with St Modwen to provide that.

“There are a lot of good ideas put forward, like Clive Mott’s at the recent civic society meeting, and if St Modwen come up with another pre-packaged project then their suitability has to be questioned.”

Tim Seddon, St Modwen’s regional director for London and the South East, said: “It is inevitable Vue Entertainment will want to review their expansion strategy following the very recent acquisition of Apollo Cinemas. Our regeneration proposal for Bognor, however, has many different elements of which the cinema is only one part.”

Talks with all the retail and leisure operators, including Vue, were continuing, he said, to make him confident about bringing the best possible schemes to the town.

Arun’s chief executive, Nigel Lynn, said he understood St Modwen was promoting Bognor with all operators in the cinema market and other retail and leisure companies as well.

He repeated his pledge to consult with the public once a full regeneration package was known.