‘ARUN may be flogging a dead horse’ in its pursuit of an enterprise zone for Bognor Regis, its local plan examination heard this morning (Wednesday, June 3).
The suitability of the proposal, which would be located north of the town and is hoped would attract more than 150 businesses andthousands of jobs, was questioned by Tony Dixon, of Ford Enterprise Hub, who has long championed Ford as a better alternative.
He said: “My concerns are the remoteness from the A27 and the other is the flood risk. My concern is the council may be flogging a dead horse here.
“We’ve already had one failed bid, and by the way I support the idea very much, but it’s the right idea in the wrong place. The second bid has not been successful at this point.”
Mr Dixon believes his concerns will dissuade businesses from coming to the area, while the new Rolls Royce site at the Oldlands Farm Business Park to the north of Bognor Regis was situated on land least prone to flooding.
He added news of funding for an Arundel bypass had ‘not appeared to have been considered’ by Arun - a project he felt was a ‘game changer’.
In defence, Arun assistant director for planning and regeneration Karl Roberts said Rolls Royce was an example of business interest in the area and work continued to try and secure enterprise zone status.
He said the council would accept not having official enterprise zone status, provided it was granted the additional powers of being one.
He said: “The matter remains unresolved at this point. We have not had an official confirmation from the government that they are no longer wishing to consider our proposal.
“We would like to have clarity so we can move forward.”
The hearing discussed the importance of a link road between the A259 and the Bognor Regis northern relief road but participants noted the ‘challenging’ situation regarding its funding.
Sime Darby, landowners of the Lec Airfield site, said it recognised the importance and would happily discuss its role in moving things forward.
Representative Raof Daud said: “The road is necessary not just to provide access to the site but is of other local strategic importance and we hope to bring forward an evidence base to demonstrate that.”
The examination continues until Thursday afternoon.
Click here for coverage of day one.