DEVELOPER St Modwen is set to be given yet another year to produce plans to regenerate Bognor Regis.
The company is seeking approval from Arun District Council to be allowed to continue its preparatory work on the £40m project.
The scheme’s intention is to transform the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites with a mixture of leisure, residential and retail uses.
Councillors are being asked to back the company’s efforts and extend its deadline to produce detailed proposals for a further 15 months from the end of last month. The decision will be taken at Wednesday’s meeting of the full council.
Gillian Brown, Arun’s leader, said: “This is a huge step forward in making Bognor the premier seaside town it wants to be.
“Visitors today demand high-quality venues and attractions and, if we want to achieve our ambitions for the town, we must respond to those expectations. Bognor deserves the best and that is what we want to provide.
“The recession has delayed developments like these up and down the country. So, it is reasssuring St Modwen continues to progress its proposals and look at making such a significant investment in the town so early in the economic recovery.”
But Bognor Regis Civic Society deputy chairman Hugh Coster said St Modwen had been working since 2006, with two earlier extensions to deals, and produced nothing of benefit to the town.
“We are concerned there is yet another option which has been put forward now,” he said. “That is for the hotel on the Regis Centre site to be moved next to, or into, the theatre and the original hotel site to be used for townhouses.
“That would be a further development on a site which will be over-developed if the ideas which St Modwen have put forward come to fruition. And all we would have along the seafront is a wall of flats with a multiplex behind.
“The people of Bognor clearly don’t want either. It’s about time St Modwen and Arun realised that.
“It’s taken St Modwen seven years to get this far. If they can’t do better, I can’t see the point of carrying on with them.”
A report by Arun’s assistant director of planning and economic development, Karl Roberts, to the meeting states St Modwen is looking at underground car parking to overcome the crucial problem of the lack of spaces caused by building on the Regis Centre’s car park.
The proposed scheme would see the centre’s Alexandra Theatre increased from some 360 seats to 430-450 seats with a new foyer and atrium and a transformed external appearance.
About 12 bars and cafes overlooking the sea are also anticipated, along with some 80 flats and the hotel.
Only vague details are known about the Hothamton site off Queensway. They are said to be housing and retail uses and a decked car park.