VOTE: Do you think Bognor Regis can support a bigger theatre?

Developer St Modwen has been given a £7.5m blueprint for a bigger and better theatre in Bognor Regis.

The company behind the town’s regeneration schemes has received the proposal for the improved Regis Centre by Felpham architect David Bennett.

Senior Arun District Council member Norman Dingemans said: “We know about Mr Bennett’s plans and St Modwen have got them as well.

“The theatre will be here, we hope – certainly – with 500 seats and maybe with 750. That’s what we are looking at at the moment.”

Mr Bennett’s proposal would provide 500 seats – increased from 352 – in the centre’s Alexandra Theatre, a bigger and more flexible studio room with seating for 100 compared to the current 60 and a bigger cafe and a new bar.

Mr Bennett said the extra capacity would take the theatre into a different entertainment league.

“If you can get the capacity up to 500 seats, you go up a level in terms of who will come to the theatre,” he said.

The extra seats could easily be accommodated by making better use of the space within the centre.

They would be placed behind the current seating by extending the auditorium into an area occupied by a staircase.

“One of the strange anomalies of this building is that there is a staircase right behind the front wall. And that is not the most important part of a theatre,” he said.

Providing alternative staircases elsewhere would free up that area and allow the building’s Belmont Street frontage to become a two-storey glass box similar to the Capitol in Horsham.

This would put the centre’s entrance opposite The Arcade to enable it to be seen from the London Road precinct and make a statement to the town centre.