New date given for crucial meeting about St Modwen

The Regis Centre - photo by Louise Adams
The Regis Centre - photo by Louise Adams

A LONG-AWAITED meeting about the regeneration plans for Bognor Regis could be pushed back to July.

Arun District Council’s senior officers and councillors want to hold the discussion about St Modwen’s plans for the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites on July 10.

This will be almost three months later than its scheduled date of March 20.

As reported, the original meeting was cancelled at the 11th hour because of an asbestos scare in the council’s offices at Littlehampton during work to improve the sound system.

The enforced change has also seen the council propose to split the 1,000-page agenda for the original meeting.

Nigel Lynn, Arun’s chief executive, said: “We know people are anxious to know when these important issues will be discussed and decided.

“We have taken the opportunity to look at the timetable and have added in an extra meeting date to ensure there is the necessary time needed to properly address each issue rather than dealing with everything on one night.”

The new schedule is:

* May 9 – full council meeting to consider the updated chapters of the council’s emerging local plan, with its proposal for 2,000 homes around Westergate

* May 15 – full council meeting to consider the draft leisure strategy and confirm the saving of Swansea Gardens bowling greens and tennis courts. This meeting will also be asked to defer the Bognor regeneration debate until July 10.

* May 29 – full council meeting to consider the revised local plan and agree public consultation

* July 10 – full council meeting to consider St Modwen proposals, subject to approval on May 15.

Arun’s leader, Gillian Brown, said the extra time would give the council and St Modwen the opportunity to do more work to improve its proposals.

“There are still concerns about the St Modwen scheme and we have been looking at the car parking provision that is needed to support this scheme.

“Subject to the agreement of full council on May 15 that this item indeed be deferred to July 10, the new timetable gives us extra time to continue that work in order to present a fuller picture to councillors and members of the public about how we will make car parking work to help inform the debate and final decision.”

The current scheme involves building on both car parks at the Regis Centre and Hothamton.

Only about a quarter of the existing spaces will remain.

An expert study has shown this will leave the town centre chronically short of parking provision.

St Modwen wants to use the land at the Regis Centre to build a four- to five-screen cinema and a collection of bars and restaurants, an 80-room hotel and flats above as well as increase the capacity at the centre’s Alexandra Theatre.

For Hothamton, 200 flats are proposed with a possible shop.