£80m plan to restore Bognor is shot down

Artist's impression of the Sir Richard Hotham project which has been turned down
Artist's impression of the Sir Richard Hotham project which has been turned down

Councillors have voted unanimously against the £80m plans to renovate Bognor Regis.

In a special meeting of Arun District Council’s development control committee, all 15 members voted to refuse planning permission to the Sir Richard Hotham Project.

The plans included building housing, shops and office space on The Regis Centre site redeveloping the Hothamton car park into a 1,100-seat theatre and building a restaurant on the former Esplanade Theatre site.

During the meeting, council planning officers recommended that the committee should refuse the application.

A statement issued by the council outlined the reasons for refusal, which included ‘failure to provide sufficient levels and an appropriate mix of affordable housing, traffic and concerns over lack of parking, accessibility, and design’.

Of the 191 apartments planned, only 27 – 14 per cent – would be made available to those on the council’s waiting list, less than half of its 30 per cent target.

Councillors also felt that the applicants hadn’t proved that the project was actually deliverable.

Speaking before the votes were cast, Cllr Jacqui Maconachie (C, Aldwick W) said that while it seemed an ‘attractive proposition’, the lack of affordable housing was ‘tantamount to criminal’ and criticised the lack of parking.

Cllr Barbara Oakley (C, Middleton) warned that the plans would be risky given the UK’s current economic climate.

“Developments like these are at the mercy of the national economic situation, and given the referendum on Europe goodness knows what’s going to happen to it.

“My fear would be that The Regis Centre gets redeveloped but then the other sites can’t be finished. The last thing we want is to see Bognor turn into a building site.”

When asked after the vote if he would pursue the project, developer Thomas Elliott said: “I’d like to have the opportunity to have more time and enter into meaningful dialogue with the council.”

*See pages 8 and 9

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