Bognor Regis has ‘hit a standstill’

The only thing moving in Bognor Regis is the sea, the head of the town’s business group has complained.

Nick Stuart-Nicolson said the seafront revamp had stalled, the roads were clogged and major new stores were years away.

“As I roam through the mean streets of Bognor, I don’t really see much that Sir Richard Hotham – who created the town – would be proud of.

“Sometimes, one wonders if the only thing moving in Bognor is the sea,” he said.

“I have to say, and there will be people who will not like me saying it, residents and visitors will not be convinced any regeneration is taking place until they can see it, smell it and touch it.

“In this respect we cannot accept that – although significant in the long term – Butlin’s, the University of Chichester, The Regis School and those expensive and widespread housing developments represent the true regeneration of Bognor.

“We need to see some action on the seafront. In fact, whatever happened to ‘the seafront strategy’ to which the chamber made a lengthy and considerable contribution?

“Too long ago we were expecting a tidal wave or activity in the areas due for development.

“Instead, we see vast housing estates in Felpham and North Bersted. If these developers are proceeding with a clear vision, what has happened to St Modwen?

“If, as is clear, these other developers are confident of sales, then surely St Modwen should have the same confidence.

“Butlin’s commitment alone must translate into the start of other worthwhile projects.

“Bognor needs to attract new businesses, but it will only succeed in this if it is perceived to be flourishing and vibrant.

“It is all very well to have a ‘wish list’, but we firstly have to create an inviting shopping offer and experience for other retailers to show interest in coming to the town.”

Mr Stuart-Nicolson continued his outspoken comments at the chamber of commerce’s annual meeting on Monday at the Beachcroft Hotel in Felpham.

The chairman and president stated: “We really do need to see serious attention paid to the plight of motorists and delivery vehicles in accessing our town, which is currently often gridlocked.

“Our overcrowded roads in and out of the town should become a priority for action. And, believe me, you’ve got an awfully long wait before completion of the relief road.”

It was crucial to keep the goal of regenerating the town in mind in spite of the loss of the town’s regeneration task force at the end of last month, he said.

Arun District Council marked the winding-up of the task force by issuing a £541m list of improvements it had achieved for Bognor.

These included the new hotels at Butlin’s, an expansion of the university campus, the new £39m Regis School and the site six housing schemes in North Bersted and Felpham with their associated relief road.

It also has a development agreement with builder St Modwen for the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites.