Theatre site could have eight bars, restaurants

UP TO EIGHT leisure outlets are planned to regenerate the central Bognor Regis seafront.

The number of new restaurants, pubs and cafes for the Regis Centre site has been proposed by St Modwen.

The fact has been revealed in answer to a question from an Arun District Council member.

Cllr Sandra Daniells (Con, Pevensey) quizzed the council about claims that eight to 12 of the businesses were being planned.

The council’s senior economic development officer, Anthony Everitt, told her the exact number of new premises, eight, in the present scheme.

“There would also likely be a bar/cafe in the theatre and a series of smaller kiosks that could sell food and drink,” he said.

He also stated the miniplex cinema intended to be the focal point of the re-development is expected to boast four to five screens.

He said its presence did not necessarily mean the end of the Picturedrome as widely feared and expressed in a 10,868 name petition which asked the council to protect the current two-screen cinema.

“The position with regards the impact on the smaller cinema has been raised a considerable amount.

“I have seen examples in other towns that suggest an independent cinema can survive in the same town as a multiple outlet and would hope this could be the case in Bognor,” he stated.

He agreed with the council’s decision that talks should take place with the Picturedrome’s owner, Bognor Regis Town Council, about how this might work.

He said the miniplex was expected to be solely used for showing films.

“Previously, there was talk of a hall with retractable seating. This is not in the current proposals but has not been ruled out,” he stated.

He also said the extra 100 seats which were proposed for the Alexandra Theatre within the centre would help to boost its attraction to performers.

“Theatre specialists were employed to look at this,” he replied. “It is not only the number of seats that are important to attract high-quality acts but also the quality of the environment inside and around the theatre and the venue’s ability to market the shows.”

He has also defended the absence of a fly tower in the improved theatre. This is a piece of backstage equipment which is used to move scenery and enables touring shows to more easily stage their productions.

“The experts’ view is that the fly tower would not be a good value investment as the size of the venue would not regularly need it.

“Instead, they recommend investment in other areas such as the foyer, auditorium or rent-paying kiosk area.”

It was still the council’s intention that the current theatre, the Arun Arts charity, should continue.

“The thinking is that, by providing the theatre operator with bar revenue and some revenue from the rent of the kiosks, the revenue position will be sustainable longer term without the need for further public sector funding,” said Mr Everitt.