A small hotel in Bognor Regis is to be converted into flats – with some disappointed councillors saying it would be a ‘great loss to the town’.
The eight-bedroom Gables Hotel, in Crescent Road, will be converted into four one-bedroom flats after planning permission was approved by Arun District Council on Wednesday.
The decision was not agreed by everyone, with Jim Brooks (Ind, Marine) accusing local authorities of failing to support tourism.
Mr Brooks felt that, with investment, The Gables could have made ‘a good boutique hotel’ – but he understood why the flats option had been chosen, adding: “I see really no large scale support for tourism from the local authorities.”
Stephen Haymes (Con, Yapton) disagreed.
He said: “We do support tourism to quite an extent – it is very important to the area.
“But I can’t see any support for this remaining as a hotel or whatever it is at the moment. To turn it into flats is a good idea.”
Members of the development control committee were told that the building had recently been used as a house in multiple occupation and had not been a hotel for some ten years.
There were concerns from some about a shortage of small hotels and B&Bs in the area.
Pat Dillon (Con, Pevensey) said that losing The Gables would be ‘a great loss to the town’, while Dawn Hall (Con, Pagham) added: “It’s very disappointing that we’re losing these small hotels in Bognor. I think there is a call for it.”
This was a view shared by Sandra Daniells, a Bognor Regis town councillor.
Ms Daniells told the meeting that the building had been sold by its 85-year-old owner in 2016, but not because there was no demand for such accommodation.
While pointing out that the Neighbourhood Plan did not support the loss of tourist accommodation, she added: “There’s a real shortage of it already in Bognor Regis but there are certainly plenty of flats.
“Bognor Regis councillors are keen to preserve our existing tourist accommodation and increase capacity as the town’s fortunes grow.
“If the will were there to refurbish, promote and market it as a boutique hotel in a newly improved town centre location, it could be a great commercial success.”
The application was approved.