The Sir Richard Hotham Project is the ‘right move’ to turn around years of decline in Bognor Regis, an independent architectural review states.
It adds that the £80m regeneration plans ‘should be wholeheartedly supported as the first major investment within the town centre for decades’.
A fresh application to redevelop three key sites - The Regis Centre, Hothampton and the Esplanade Theatre - has been submitted, following rejection by Arun District Council planners in March.
As part of the plans, John Cooper, a chartered architect for more than 30 years, was commissioned to produce an independent review.
It found: “It (Bognor) was for a long time a proud and attractive town, brimming with confidence and wholeheartedly engaged with a vibrant mix of residents and visitors alike.
“From the 1970s a decline set in, confidence wained and the town, like many seaside towns along the south coast, currently reflects a lack of confidence and self esteem.
“The current status of the three sites attests loudly to this.”
It continued: “These proposals are the right move and should be wholeheartedly supported as the first major investment with the town centre for decades.”
It added that ‘a prolonged lack of decision making is a symptom of the malaise the town is suffering from’.
The Sir Richard Hotham plans include building a hotel and apartments at The Regis Centre; constructing a new boardwalk; a 1,100-seat theatre and hotel on Hothampton car park, and turning The Esplanade Theatre into a 200-cover restaurant.
Responding to the review, Sir Richard Hotham partner Paul Rumke said: “The Team here at Sir Richard were greatly encouraged by the precise and clearly well considered report covering our regeneration plan, and references to the history of how we arrived here at this point in time.
“We believe the case for inward investment on this scale, and which is available now, is again acknowledged, and we remain optimistic that similar views within the elected representatives prevail, and generations of people from the local community will gain the benefit, both by job creation, and a stronger economic environment.”
Arun declined to comment.
CLARIFICATION: The original story, published on the Observer’s website yesterday, stated Arun District Council commissioned the independent study. We are happy to clarify that Arun did not commission the report and apologise for the error.
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