SPECIAL REPORT: Bognor Regis neighbourhood plan

Picture by Kate Shemilt C141064-4

Picture by Kate Shemilt C141064-4

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Have your say

RESIDENTS are being given the chance to have their say on 18 policies which could shape the future of Bognor Regis.

The policies comprise a wishlist for specific sites and are contained in the draft version of Bognor Regis Town Council’s neighbourhood plan.

Cllr Sandra Daniells with a copy of the Bognor Regis neighbourhood plan

Cllr Sandra Daniells with a copy of the Bognor Regis neighbourhood plan

Proposals include creating a café, bar and cultural quarter, promoting nationally-recognised buildings on the seafront and the extension of the pier to its original length, among other matters.

They will have to be taken into account by developers if backed by residents and included in the plan’s final version.

The policies have been compiled by the neighbourhood plan steering group formed by the town council.

Ambitions for the pier include extending it back to its original length as well as allowing for a generous, step-free and publicly accessible all-weather viewing point at the pier head and 
a range of uses and facilities such as restaurants, cafés and shops.

Picture by Kate Shemilt C141064-1

Picture by Kate Shemilt C141064-1

“Development proposals must demonstrate and accomplish excellence in design and craftmanship for the restoration and extension of the iconic structure and designated heritage asset,” it said.

Further east along the seafront the plan focuses on the Butlin’s promenade gardens and Gloucester Road car park.

It said the area has great potential to contribute to Bognor’s identity as a 21st-century seaside town.

“The site at the prominent corner of Gloucester Road/Esplanade is expected to be developed,” it said.

“This policy supports an all-weather leisure facility in a landmark building, with public and step-free access from street and promenade level, including parking.”

Regarding the potential regeneration site of the Regis Centre, the plan said support will be given to retaining, replacing, enlarging or improving its theatre.

Plans to change its use will be resisted.

The plan calls for adequate parking and a public and step-free access route between the promenade and a sandy foreshore.

Another key site featured in the plan is the corner of High Street and Gloucester Road.

“This neighbourhood plan promotes a high quality residential-led mixed use development with an amount of employment and retail component on parts or all of the site.

“Active ground floor uses are expected to contribute to the animation of the public realm and generally support a more welcoming gateway to the town centre,” it said.

Other sites covered include the Hothamton car park, the Covers plot next to the railway station and the University of Chichester’s campus in the town.

Speak out

Cllr Sandra Daniells, chairman of the town council’s neighbourhood plan sub-committee, urged people to have their say on the plan for the town council’s four wards.

People always say that nobody listens to them. This is a chance for them to have their say,” she said.

“We want people to have a look at the draft plan and give us their feedback.

“We will then see what their reactions are and see if we need to change the plan.

“We are at an early stage. If there is something in the plan that people don’t like, then we have got plenty of time to address that.

“I hope we will be able to incorporate most people’s views but we are never going to be able to please everyone.”

If adopted, the plan’s policies will affect the future of the Orchard, Hotham, Marine and Pevensey wards by forming a part of planning decisions once their final version has been approved.

The current plan was the result of some two years of work led by the town council, said Cllr Daniells.

Jobs

Four employment centres have been identified in the draft plan.

The town centre and seafront is given a lot of coverage.

“There is huge untapped potential for making our seafront and town centre a more attractive place,” states the plan.

“Better pedestrian links between the town and the seafront would further improve the experience.

“Over the last decade, Butlin’s has invested heavily in contemporary high quality on-site accommodation and entertainment facilities.

“They have significantly improved the look and feel of the resort with attractive landscaping and planting.

“For the near future, there is a plan to build three more hotels and associated facilities along the seafront.

“These facilities are reserved for Butlin’s guests.

“This level of care and infrastructure investment has not taken place in the rest of the town.

“Significant growth in employment, local income and prosperity enjoyed by other southern coastal towns is yet to be experienced in Bognor.

“Important all-weather facilities providing an attractive alternative to a day on the beach off season and/or when it’s too cold or rainy during the British summer are, outside of Butlin’s, mostly absent in Bognor.

“Further, there is a gap in facilities and services typically associated with a town of Bognor’s size such as good quality restaurants and shops.”

The second employment centre is the Arun Retail Park area on Shripney Road, with Butlins – which has more than 850 full and part-time staff – and the University of Chichester given as the others.

As well as the present, the plan looks to the future.

It details several investment initiatives including Butlin’s, the Picturedrome with a 130-seat auditorium extension costing some £850,000, the Regis Centre/Hothamton sites, the public realm improvements from the station to the sea and the Big Blake Project.

Challenges

The top five challenges and opportunities outlined in the draft plan are:

Challenge 1 – investments in assets: to bring sustainable uses as well as good private and public investment to the community, natural and heritage assets so they can be enjoyed today as well as restored and maintained for future generations.

Opportunity 1 – The buildings and structures in Bognor are telling a 150-year-long story of the quintessential English seaside town. Areas such as Lennox Street and Hotham Park provide the ingredients to become a prosperous 21st-century resort. The direct link to London should be used better.

Challenge 2 – stronger identity: to understand and communicate more clearly the identity as a seaside town by caring for the look, feel and quality of the built environment and the services and facilities.

Opportunity 2 – build on, broaden and manage the range of place experiences, services and products in the town centre that are on offer to meet and exceed the needs and aspiration of residents and visitors.

Challenge 3 – the Bognor Regis experience: town centre businesses and services compete with a growing number of large scale out of town retail chains at Shripney Road, the internet and Chichester.

Opportunity 3 – emphasise the importance of the town centre and seafront as a different much more social, interactive, entertaining place by providing spaces, products, facilities and services that attract people of all means and ages.

Challenge 4 – a great place for people on foot and bike: to create and maintain a network of comfortable links within the wider urban area providing healthy and sustainable movement options between the town centre, seafront, sea and destinations such as Hotham Park, Butlin’s, schools, the hospital and cinema.

Opportunity 4 – to become a haven for pedestrians and cyclists by delivering a step change in the provision for all ages and abilties.

Challenge 5 – more skills and entrepreneurial activity: to encourage local residents and businesses to access further qualifications and skills, better paid work and business start up chances.

Opportunity 5 – to promote the use of under-used land, spaces and properties in the town centre and along the seafront for businesses, learning and local jobs.

How to get it

Copies of the neighbourhood plan can be viewed on the town council’s website – www.bognor.gov.uk or at the town hall, Picturedrome, Regis Centre and the library.

Comments received by December 24 will be reviewed by the steering group and the resulting plan will be sent to Arun District Council to scrutinise.

It will then go to an independent examiner before it is put to a referendum.

Approval will see the neighbourhood plan taken into account by Arun in any planning decision in the relevant area.