Future operator sought for Bognor Regis cafe

Plans to find future operators for three ‘well-established’ Arun cafés have been backed in order to make ‘significant improvements’.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 12:56 pm
West Park cafe (Photo from Google Maps Street View)

Leases for West Park café in Bognor Regis Littlehampton’s Mewsbrook Park café and Edge by the Sea at Norfolk Gardens, Littlehampton are all due to expire on October 31.

Rather than renewing the existing leases, council officers recommended that they are marketed and opened up to potential bidders.

A mothballed public toilet building in Marine Park Gardens, Bognor Regis, will also be considered for marketing as the building previously secured planning permission to be used as a café but this has since expired.

A report cited a ‘need for investment’ as the reason for marketing of the premises which it says could improve ‘the public offering, the aesthetic presence within council Paul Broggi, head of property, estates and facilities, reassured ADC’s economic committee on Monday (July 26) that current tenants were aware of the lease conditions from the start and will be given all the information they need should they wish to reapply.

He said that if the marketing process was unsuccessful it could lead to periods of closure and significant delays to improvements.

Gill Yeates (Lib Dem, Bersted) expressed concern at the tight turnaround, saying: “I’m pleased to hear existing tenants are being offered the opportunity to engage in the process and are fully aware of that. But is the timescale optimistic?

“Six weeks seems quite short as it’s a significant investment we’re asking applicants to consider.

“It’s also difficult timing because it’s summertime, we’re still under some restrictions as well and lots of people are still working from home and may continue to do so.”

Councillors were told that there was ‘no alternative’ to the short timeframe and new businesses were already being consulted. If repairs are not completed during the quieter winter season, current leases may have to be extended or this could result in periods of closure and lost revenue.

Tony Dixon (Ind, Aldwick East) expressed concerns over three cafés operating within a small area once the decommissioned toilet is leased.

He said: “I just wonder if Marine Park Gardens can support three cafés – I question how viable that is.”

Officers said they had regular enquiries about Marine Park Gardens and felt there was enough footfall in the area to justify the extra location.

Emily Seex (Arun Ind, River) asked that a ‘diverse’ range of operators be considered due to some providers running several cafés in the area already.

Matt Stanley, (Lib Dem, Marine) asked why the existing Marine Park Gardens toilets had been decommissioned in the first place and sought reassurance that new toilets would be well signposted for public use.

He said: “I do think it would be good to better signpost those combined public toilets.

“From an outsider’s perspective, it will simply look like we’ve extended the café and closed the toilets.”

Officers said the existing toilets were decommissioned due to ‘extensive anti-social behaviour’ and that the council would work with future operators to ensure the provision of toilets that are accessible to customers and non-customers alike.

Councillors unanimously approved open marketing of the cafes.