For regeneration ‘a proper balance is essential’, that is the view of the Bognor Regis Civic Society’s deputy chairman.
Hugh Coster’s comments come in light of the recent change of use application for The Works (approved) and the former butcher at Station Road (pending decision) sites to become restaurants.
Mr Coster said: “My general view is that the regeneration enthusiasts, particularly Arun, keep on chuntering on about bars, cafes and restaurants as if they are the panacea for all ills, when they are not.
“A proper balance is essential between the sort of retail shops that people like to browse around, and things such as eateries etc. And to see how his works in action, just take a look at Rustington shops, which are properly managed – and furthermore, don’t need ‘events’, markets and suchlike to bring people in.”
He added that businesses such as solicitors, charity shops, betting shops, amusement arcades, hairdressers, undertakers, recruitment agencies ‘are killing the retail offer’ adding that a ‘limitation on the numbers of those’ should be put in place, in addition.
Sharing his view on social media, Mr Coster highlighted Chichester as an example, stating that it is ‘turning into one big restaurant’, which he linked to reports footfall numbers are down, adding that Bognor is on a ‘slippery slope’ due to its number of ‘non-browsable shops’.
In reply, town centre manager Toyubur Rahman said: “A better balance of and mix of businesses in the town centre would be great, however, it is the market which decides what businesses are in the town centres.
“As town centre manager I can only influence landlords and business as to what they do with their private property. If the Civic Society has a plan on how to create a perfect balance then I ask them to please share their ideas and put it into action, however, so far they have offered no solution nor activity to improve the town.”
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