How set in stone are plans to transform Bognor Regis? And is the town hall going to be converted into a hotel?
The Observer put a series of questions on the latest plans to regenerate the town to Arun District Council this week.
Councillors backed a vision for the Regis Centre and Hothamton car park sites on Monday. Click here to read the full report.
In this special report, Denise Vine, Arun’s head of economic regeneration, answers some key questions:
Has Arun had contact from the Sir Richard Hotham Project since its plans were refused? Would an appeal affect the timetable of the council’s own plans?
DV: “The SRH project has sought a meeting, which will take place in March. We cannot comment on if they intend to appeal the decision. This would not affect the council’s timetable.”
What ideas suggested by the groups consulted form part of the plans?
DV: “The consultants and I met with ten of the groups that had prepared more developed plans for the sites.
“The purpose of these meetings was to better understand some of their ideas and key components they thought were important to be included. These were noted and used where possible to influence the overall concept and design proposals.”
Mrs Vine said recurring themes like an all-weather attraction, hotel, car parking and cultural hub were among ideas included.
Will the groups have another chance to engage?
DV: “These are concept proposals and will evolve over time and as we engage with our delivery partners. We will be more than happy to continue to engage with these groups.
Are flats appropriate for the seafront?
DV: “It is recognised that some people have said they don’t want to see more flats on the seafront. However, others have supported the idea.
A number of the concepts put forward by the consultation groups supported some residential on the sites. Perhaps the key consideration is how much residential there is.”
Mrs Vine said flats would help finance the scheme, take pressure off greenfield sites, bring ‘life and vitality’ to the area and provide a mix of uses.
Was the town council aware of the potential conversion of the town hall into a hotel?
DV: “The council’s 2020 Vision, ratified in July 2016, states that a review of all the council’s buildings and assets, including Bognor Regis Town Hall, will be conducted.
“It is a listed building and therefore protected from demolition. The recommendation in the report is that district council officers begin discussions with the town council to consider the future use of the building and alternative locations for the existing users of the building should it be included in the new development.”
What part of the design has the most potential to draw visitors to the town?
DV: “The new winter gardens, with integrated theatre, cultural and entertainment hub, will be a unique regional attraction and destination, drawing visitors from far and wide.
What is the timetable?
DV: “The assessment of potential is in its early stages but there is a strong commitment to progress the work undertaken and to be in a position to make decisions on the way forward over the next 12-24 months. There is still much work to do and the council will keep everyone informed as progress is made.”
How many flats and parking spaces could there be?
DV: “The preferred options are around 50 apartments at Regis Centre and 100 at Hothamton. There will be no loss of parking spaces. The concepts provide for all the existing public parking spaces either in the form of new surface spaces alongside the new park at Hothamton or within a decked car park on the Regis Centre site.
Can the plans be changed going forward? Are they set in stone?
DV: “The concept or vision is dynamic and will evolve in response to market demand and consultation. They are certainly not set in stone but simply intended to offer a view of what may be a way forward.”