Bognor Regis receives millions of levelling up funding in Rishi Sunak’s budget
Bognor Regis has been successful in bidding for millions of pounds of levelling-up funding, it was announced in the Budget by Chancellor Rishi Sunak today (Wednesday October 27).
A sum of £19.4million has been awarded to Arun District Council to embark on extensive improvement projects in both Bognor and Littlehampton.
These will focus on The Alexandra Theatre in Bognor Regis and the seafront and riverside area in Littlehampton.
Hazel Latus, director of The Regis Centre, Alexandra Theatre, said: “We are delighted that this funding has been granted. The difference that this will make to the whole community is incredible. The improvement to facilities and the additional services we will be able to provide will have an impact for residents and visitors alike.”
Shaun Gunner, leader of the council said: This is fantastic news for Bognor Regis, Littlehampton and all of Arun. When I became leader, I said I would focus on regeneration and economic investment, and that I would deliver for the district.
“This welcome announcement today is the Government investing in our future, to support the residents and businesses of this district to leave healthier and wealthier lives.
“Make no mistake, this will have a transformational impact on our district. This is levelling up in action. This isn’t just about improving the area we live in, this is about improving the lives and livelihoods of the people of this district. I could not be prouder that the Government are giving us £19.4 million for the benefit of our towns.
“The Government recognised the case I presented for the investment, and sees what a huge benefit this will deliver in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton. I would like to thank our three Members of Parliament - Sir Peter Bottomley, Nick Gibb and Andrew Griffith - for their support of this bid, and to the Government for their vote of confidence in Arun.”
Andy Cooper, chair of the economy committee, added: “A lot of work went into researching and preparing the bid document for this Levelling Up Fund and I am delighted to see that work bear fruit. The improvements that will be made to Bognor Regis and Littlehampton will benefit residents across the district with increased visitor numbers and investment in business.”
Meanwhile Lib Dem district councillor Matt Stanley said: “I am thrilled for the people of Bognor Regis and Littlehampton that we at Arun District Council has been successful in our bid to the Levelling Up Fund.
“Successive Governments have overlooked and under invested in coastal communities for far too long, our residents have suffered, so this is very welcome.
“Liberal Democrats however will not stop, we will continue to fight for change. In the previous 40yrs local Conservatives have delivered no substantial regeneration in any of our towns.
“Alongside the Levelling Up Fund Liberal Democrats have saved the Sunken Gardens, redeveloped the Place St Maur and put Beach Access firmly back on the table, all in just two years.
“Unlike other parties we will continue to focus on delivering for the community.”
Fellow Lib Dem and former leader of the council James Walsh added: “This bid would not have happened had it not been for the insistence of the then Liberal Democrat led administration led by myself. We were told by several Conservative members that we should take longer to assemble the bid, and submit in the second round later this year.
“Together with the chief executive we pushed for the inclusion of three ‘oven-ready’ schemes in the first round of bidding, and secured the support of local MPs.
“I am over the moon that the bid has been successful, and that the Alexandra Theatre and Regis Centre will get a major regeneration scheme, and that Littlehampton seafront will be made even more welcoming to visitors and residents.
“This will all be a boost to overall regeneration of our two major towns. It means in the case of Bognor Regis that after 30 years of inertia and false starts, that with the recently started Place St Maur major scheme, this Regis Centre scheme will be a major step in seafront revitalisation.
“A major thank you is due to all who supported the bid both locally and from Government. The schemes have important delivery timetables, and we must now all pull together to make sure it happens by 2023.”
Lib Dem district and county councillor Francis Oppler added: “I am delighted at the news of the successful bid for the ‘levelling up fund’. I am proud to have been part of the administration at Arun who started this process.
“Bognor Regis has waited too long for this investment, so the council has to ensure that the money is spent in a way that reflects the priorities of the local community. “A key element will be to restore the Alexandra hall which was lost when part of the complex was converted to the pub.”
The Bognor Regis Regeneration Board has welcomed Arun District Council’s winning bid to the Levelling Up Fund as a successful example of collaboration and partnership working which will deliver tangible progress for both towns.
The Board’s Chair, Raof Daud, stated: “In an interview recently published by the Bognor Regis Observer regarding town centre regeneration, I made the strong point that the key to progress would be in a willingness to work together with co-ordination and compromise.
“The Board is very pleased that Arun District Council adopted a cross-party approach to develop the proposals for the Levelling Up Fund bid and a wide range of stakeholders supported the application, resulting in the successful award of over £19 million; this shows that delivering through partnership works.
“The Board and its members congratulate the Councillors and Officers at Arun District Council and look forward to working with our partners to bring the Alexandra Theatre project to fruition.”
Rebecca White, the Board’s Advisor, added: “This is fantastic news for Bognor Regis town centre and combined with the £1.8 million Place St Maur redevelopment will make a real and visible difference to this important site. There are so many other opportunities for improvement in the town centre and it’s vital that there is some joined-up thinking in terms of the projects and initiatives, whether large or small, that are brought forward.
“We are therefore really encouraged by ADC’s plan to review the Town Centre Masterplan as part of the Economic Development Action Plan. This should be prioritised to ensure that all the town centre partners can work together and support Bognor Regis’s post-Covid resurgence”.
Back in June, ADC said the Bognor Regis project includes:
• New front of house facilities at the theatre
• More seating and other internal improvements
• A new roof
• Exhibition space
• More meeting rooms
• New toilets, including a Changing Place toilet.
Nick Gibb, Bognor Regis’ MP, said: “It is very good news that the Chancellor announced this important funding for our area in the budget.
“The Government has made clear that the Levelling Up agenda is about tackling inequality across the entirety of the United Kingdom.
“This investment will benefit not only the residents of Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, but the surrounding local economy which depends on our tourism sector which is boosted by this excellent news.”
Andrew Griffith MP for Arundel and South Downs, added: “All residents of Arun District will benefit from regeneration money flowing into the local area. These tens of millions will improve the towns of Littlehampton and Bognor Regis where I know many of my constituents work, shop or spend their leisure time.”