£10m plans for Bognor Regis seafront 'jewel in the crown'

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New £10 million plans for a ‘jewel in the crown’ of Bognor Regis seafront have been supported by the council.

Potential plans for a new Regis Quarter on the town’s seafront have been supported in principle by Arun District Council’s economy committee at its meeting on Monday, July 8.

The Regis Quarter would be on the former Brewers Fayre pub and Regis Centre Car Park sites, with plans to include commercial space, areas for leisure and tourism, overnight accommodation, potentially including a new hotel and a theatre.

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Architects for the project OB Architecture and Fabrik, said in the plans: “Regis Quarter aims to capture the town’s cultural and creative energy and give it a home.

Regis Quarter Plans from Place St Maur, sourced from Arun District CouncilRegis Quarter Plans from Place St Maur, sourced from Arun District Council
Regis Quarter Plans from Place St Maur, sourced from Arun District Council

“Creating a neighbourhood which serves local communities with jobs, workplaces and startup spaces, and gives a shot of caffeine to the town’s tourist and leisure economies – the jewel in the crown.”

The Brewers Fayre building would be rebuilt as a ‘multi-use’ Royal Hall, a 400 seat auditorium ‘main hall’ and a smaller adjacent, open plan ‘foyer hall’, and will include a marquee restaurant, and a sky bar on the roof.

It would be wrapped in a transparent facade around the sides facing Place St Maur and the Promenade, which the architects said is to signify its status as a ‘community asset’ and to ‘welcome’ people into the building.

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The Regis Centre Car Park site would become a ‘mixed-use’ development for leisure, retail, workspaces, food and drink, the public realm, car parking, and holiday accommodation.

Regis Quarter Plans, sourced from Arun District CouncilRegis Quarter Plans, sourced from Arun District Council
Regis Quarter Plans, sourced from Arun District Council

The holiday accommodation section could range from three to eight storeys tall according to the two draft images of what the site could look like, for up to 120 rooms.

The car park would be up to four storeys tall with 228 spaces, an increase from the existing 175 parking spaces on the site.

The plans are only preliminary, with a feasibility study being approved by the committee to determine market interest, cost and where funding for the plans might come from.

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Although the cost for getting the final plans to the planning committee were exempt from public view, the Brewer’s Fayre site plans were estimated to cost the council roughly £10 million, according to the council’s Joint Interim CEO Karl Roberts.

Mr Roberts said since the council cannot finance the whole project on its own, it would either have to bid for government grants to pay for it, or the council could enter into a joint venture agreement with a private developer to split the costs and profits of the scheme.

Mr Roberts said he anticipates consultation with Arun and Bognor Regis residents to begin ‘fairly soon’ after the feasibility study was approved, but no exact date was given.

The recently approved Premier Inn plans and the renovated Alexandra Theatre, on the east and west of the site respectively, are not to be included in the scheme, though the theatre is still planned to stay conjoined to the new Royal Hall building once built.

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The Bognor Regis Town Hall directly to the east, and the Bognor Regis Arcade, directly to the north, would not be included either.

Shaun Gunner (Con, Rustington East) said he was concerned about the size of the development ‘overshadowing’ neighbouring houses and community assets like the arcade.

He also raised concerns about the new theatre and accommodation competing with the Alexandra Theatre and new Premier Inn once built.

Andy Cooper (Con, Angmering and Findon) said he was getting the sense of ‘deja vu’ with the scheme, saying developers had been proposing plans for the site since 2002, with nothing coming of it so far.

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Roger Nash (Lab, Pevensey) said he remembered a time when the theatre and then royal hall operated ‘side by side’ cooperatively, saying they would need the space from tourism generated by the ‘landmark’ scheme.

Martin Lury (LDem, Bersted) said the plans are ‘exciting’ and could ‘change the face of Bognor Regis’, saying he would like to seat numbers for the theatres into the ‘thousands’ if possible to draw in more tourism to the town.

Members agreed to also look into the size of the development with the feasibility study, with officers saying they had ‘maximised’ the space within the scheme, to show the council and potential investors what can be done with the site.

The plans were supported by the economy committee with nine votes for and one abstention.

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As part approval for the feasbility study members also agreed to ask West Sussex County Council to release money from their business rates pool, as par tof the Arun Growth Deal, to help pay for public consultation and developing plans up to getting planning permission.

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