WIDESPREAD consultation about regeneration will begin next week.
Arun District Council will set out its plan to find out people’s ideas on the future of Bognor Regis.
The council is paying for a full-page advert in the Observer next week to inform residents how the six weeks of seeking views will be organised. Details will also be placed on Arun’s website.
Paul Askew, head of policy and partnerships, is heading the consultation work on the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites.
He told last week’s meeting of Bognor Regis Civic Society the consultation was set to consist of up to five events in the town and one each in Pagham, Felpham, Middleton and Barnham. One event would also take place in Arundel and Littlehampton and possibly Angmering.
He said the council had received 14 proposals. “They range from a few which are five or six pages long to some which are 200-plus pages,” he said.
“There are probably 1,000 pages of them in all on my desk. We are very pleased with the number of individuals and companies who have taken the time and effort to do something for Bognor.
“They are all on the same level at the moment.”
The consultation is set to see residents given a list of components of the various schemes and asked to rate them.
“It will not be asking people to rate one scheme rather than another,” he said, adding it was necessary to involve residents elsewhere because those across Arun could be asked to contribute some council tax towards the scheme. Street surveys could also be carried out in Chichester and Worthing.
It was also intended the chosen project would attract visitors from outside the district so it was important to know their views, he said.
The consultation carried out by Bell Pottinger on Arun’s behalf will last until the end of March.
Mr Askew said: “The responses will be given to councillors, probably at the full council meeting in July.
“They will give councillors an idea of what people support.
“If the scheme includes a multiplex, and only two to three per cent of people want that, I would think councillors would be hard pushed to go down that road.
“We will be guided towards what people want. We will put that in front of councillors who will make the final decision.”
The next stages in the process would be determined by the council members chosen in the May elections, said Mr Askew.
Civic society deputy chairman Hugh Coster said: “We need a full debate about the regeneration of the town. We are happy to work with Arun to achieve that.”
Town mayor Tony Gardiner made a plea for a fresh start with the regeneration.
“We need to say to Arun we need to start with a clean sheet of paper to move Bognor forward,” he said.
“We have got to move with the times. If we don’t, we will end up arguing again about what has been done and who said what.
“That has got to stop because, if it doesn’t, the only losers will be the people of Bognor.”
Town councillor Paul Wells said any chosen scheme needed to at least keep, if not increase, the 405 spaces at the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites.
“Parking is absolutely crucial to the town. If you starve it of parking, you starve the retailers of this town and, if you do that, you will end up with empty shops. It’s as simple as that,” he said.