Construction on Bognor Regis theatre upgrades set to start later this year

An artist impression of the finished works.An artist impression of the finished works.
An artist impression of the finished works.
Long-awaited upgrades to The Regis Centre are set to start later this year, Arun District Council has said, following the appointment of a contractor.

The multi-million pound works have been in the pipeline since a successful application to the government’s Levelling Up Fund in 2020, which also provided funds for the renewal of the nearby Place St Maur and several regenerative works in Littlehampton.

£12.9 million was set aside for works on the theatre – bolstered by an additional £3 million cash injection in 2022 – and, although some councillors called for the construction of an entirely new facility, the council eventually settled on an extensive refit.

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The plans involve increasing capacity in the main auditorium to 386 seats, installing 2700sqm of arts/cultural floorspace, introducing a new dedicated space in the foyer for use as an on site pop-up gallery and display space. There are also plans to improve the theatre’s bar and catering facilities, all while installing five new studios with sprung flooring and technical facilities, some of which will be equipped with staging and seating for performances. The plans were approved by the council in February and, with the successful appointment of contractors, it is hoped work will start in earnest later this year.

Before it does, Arun District Council has assured residents that officers are working to discharge planning conditions established by planners, in order to ensure work goes as smoothly as possible.

A council spokesperson said: “This includes providing additional information on how construction will be managed (working with the appointed contractor) and additional surveys needed on the current building to ensure it is ready for construction. The council will keep the community informed of progress before construction work starts and throughout the construction period.”

The theatre’s regeneration is tied inextricably up with work on the Premier Inn hotel, which started earlier this year, with the continuing demolition of Bognor’s old fire station.

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Permission to work on the theatre, which was previously leased by Premier Inn parent company Whitbread PLC, was secured several years ago via a landswap and a £750,000 buy out. Whitbread agreed to release the theatre in exchange for permission to build on prime seafront land near the town hall, and work on the 116-bedroom hotel is expected as early as October next year.