VOTE: Does Bognor Regis needs a Marks and Spencer store?

Give us Marks & Spencer, a Bognor Regis councillor has urged.

Cllr Francis Oppler said the best way to ensure a plan for a new food store in the town boosted its economy was to go upmarket.

The Bognor Regis Observer revealed last month that a 30,000sq ft food store had become a central part of the regeneration proposals for the Hothamton car park.

It has been proposed by developer St Modwen Properties in its latest ideas for site owner Arun District Council to consider.

Approval to progress the idea costing millions of pounds for a food store, student housing and residential redevelopment of the Hothamton site off Queensway was given unanimously by councillors of all political groups.

Cllr Oppler told last week’s full meeting of the district council: “A food store may work, though in some respect it is not the ‘blood-rushing’ proposal which could be put forward. We are losing shoppers in Bognor who are going to Marks & Spencer and Waitrose in Chichester.

“That’s the sort of high end retailer we need to be attracting to the town. That will give more people the incentive to come into the town centre rather than going to Chichester.”

He welcomed the idea of 200 student flats being built as part of the Hothamton redevelopment.

“The young people will bring vibrancy into the town and spend money in the supermarkets and shops,” he said.

“It will also establish further our good and strong links with the University of Chichester which is something we should be proud of.

“This is good for the university, good for students and good for the town.”

Arun’s economic chief, Norman Dingemans, said: “The student housing reflects the University of Chichester moving its sports, arts and business faculties to its Bognor campus.

“This will be good economically for Bognor because each student is estimated to be worth £10,000 a year to the local economy. That adds to up £20m extra for Bognor every year.”

Unanimous approval was also given to a car parking capacity study being considered for Bognor.

A vote to enable the surplus from the redevelopment of the Hothamton and Regis Centre sites to be reinvested to improve the Regis Centre won overwhelming support.

It was agreed unanimously as well that work must take place on both sites.

* Marks & Spencer pulled out of the London Road precinct in August 1990, eight months after Sainsbury’s left Queensway.