VOTE: Should Bognor Regis have a second cinema?

Thousands of backers are wanted to protect the Picturedrome in Bognor Regis.

The town’s civic society has launched a petition to demand Arun District Council stop another cinema opening on its land.

It states the council should not allow any cinema in competition with the Picturedrome to be built on any of its property.

The petition has been created in the format which meets the council’s rules to mean its has to be debated in public if it reaches 1,500 names.

Deputy chairman Hugh Coster said: “We want a lot more names than that to show the strength of feeling in the town.”

The petition has been signed by more than 1,000 people in just five days since it was announced at the society’s meeting last Friday.

It was backed by a show of hands at the meeting in which the 60 people present unanimously voted against a multi-screen cinema being built as part of the regeneration work on the Regis Centre site.

The council owns the land on which the entertainment building stands and has to give landowner’s permission for any work there. This is separate from any planning approval which will be needed from the council for a scheme.

The idea of a multi-screen cinema at the seafront location has been raised in the latest suggestions from developer St Modwen. It follows an original idea which dates back some five years.

But that period has seen Bognor Regis Town Council buy the two-screen Picturedrome for £445,000 and spend more on extensive repairs.

The threat to the Picturedrome was a dominant issue at the society’s meeting.

Mr Coster said: “People want an attraction on the Regis Centre that will bring people in from all over West Sussex.

“That will not happen with another multiplex, miniplex, call it what you like. Why would people come fron Rustington or East Preston to a muliplex in Bognor? It is easier for them to go to Chichester or Worthing?

“At the moment, we have a unique selling point with our cinema. What we need is some imagination from Arun to look at creating a different attraction on the Regis Centre site.”

Former town mayor Ken Scutt said: “The Picturedrome brings people in from Chichester, Worthing and all over. It brings people into Bognor and has just cost the people of the town a lot of money through the town council.

“We don’t need another cinema.”

Bognor resident Mary Stanley said: “Do we really want a multiplex when we have got the Picturedrome?

“Times have changed since St Modwen came up with the idea.”

Picturedrome operator Adam Cunard said: “We need to find a way of complementing what we have got and not destroying it.

“The town council bought the Picturedrome because people wanted them to and because it’s special to the town.”

Arun chief executive Nigel Lynn promised full consultation when St Modwen produced some firm proposals.

“At the moment there is not a single sheet of paper, or an email, from them with any details,” he said. “I hope to be able to put something before people in the near future.

“The idea of the regeneration is to increase the spending in Bognor. Too much of that at the moment goes elsewhere. It must be in everyone’s interest to have more spending in the town.

“You need an anchor tenant, like a cinema, to persuade other operators to come into a scheme. There is serious interest from people who want to come to that site given the opportunity.”

He believed it would be at least 18 months before planning approval could be given for any proposal.

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