Plans for 116 bedroom Premier Inn Hotel in Bognor Regis narrowly approved
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After hearing evidence from the hotel owners Whitbread PLC, and affected parties like residents from the neighbouring Barclay Court, representatives of the Bognor Regis Regeneration Board and Town Council, six councillors voted to approve the plans, and five voted against them.
The plans, which also include provision for a ground floor restaurant, bar and cafe, represent what Whitbread calls a £13 million pound investment into Bognor Regis, with a projected £2.8 million annual contribution to the local economy, as well as thirty full time jobs.
"We’re fortunate at Premier Inn to have a customer base made up equally of business and leisure customers, Louie Woodruff, property acquisitions manager for Whitbread said.” The wide appeal of Premier Inn helps to drive the high year-round occupancy we experience across our network and informs the investment case for new locations like Bognor Regis seafront. The planning consent gives us the go-ahead to bring forward our multi-million pound investment in Bognor town centre, create new jobs and help to support the local economy through the year-round spending of our guests. It is fantastic news for us and the town.”
Opposition to the plans is well documented, with Bognor Regis Town Council and several residents making their objections clear on the basis that the hotel, by demolishing part of the old fire station, will compromise a piece of Bognor Regis history, and do so while overshadowing the nearby Barclay Court Flats. Objectors also said the hotel will result in a net loss of twenty car spaces from the nearby Regis Centre car park and that, between hotel guests and visitors to the soon-to-be refurbished Alexandra Theatre, the area will not be able to cater to demands.
"There is no justification for all this harm by claiming unproven economic benefits, which in any case will not go through to the town but in the form of profits will go to Whitbread or elsewhere,” said Hugh Coster, addressing the committee.
Some committee members, although not opposed to the proposals in theory, resonated with complaints made by some residents. Cllr Martin Lury (Lib Dem), said he felt the architectural style of the building left a lot to be desired. “There could be a better design. And I do believe that Arun have, in the past, turned down developments in this area because of unacceptable levels of parking, and failure to demonstrate design excellence. I see nothing excellent about this design,” he said.
"I don’t really see what this is adding to the area. I am not anti-Premier Inn, I am certainly in favour of some kind of hotel somewhere on that site. I just think it needs to be tailored to the site. To me, it’s too big as it is.”
Even so, the plans definitely had supporters on the council. Councillor Richard Bower (Con), urged the committee in no uncertain terms to support the hotel: “This is a proposal I beg Bognor Regis members to support,” he said.
"As far as I’m concerned, a hotel in a seafront location in Bognor Regis is essential.”