So here we are now in 2018, and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge. Most
of it not worth mentioning really, as nothing came of it all. In 2012 Arun held a
consultation which told them that the majority did NOT want flats on the Regis Centre
or Hothamton sites.
In 2015, with an election coming in May, Arun suddenly decided they wanted lots of
input from groups and individuals in the town, with proposals for schemes. Fourteen
responded, including ourselves. Then Arun decided to hold another consultation, but
in this completely ignored all the ideas that had been put forward, so that the public
had no chance to express any views on them. All those ideas seem to have disappeared
into a drawer.
Their consultation did not reveal anything new, people still voted with quite a large
majority for no flats on the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites. Also for similar
or increased car parking for the town centre, and that the Council taxpayers should
not be paying for whatever development occurs.
Having received all that input, what did they do next? Well of course they produced
a scheme which included flats on the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites, a loss of
town centre car parking spaces, and all at the expense of the Council Taxpayers.
So much for "consultation." They call it:
GARDENS BY THE SEA
This covers the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites, and as things stand right now the
proposals are very vague. Arun likes to call them concepts, and their consultants
produce attractive pictures to consult with, but the truth is that the whole thing
might turn out very different. This is what has happened more than once before,
and if anybody complains about being mis-led, the answer is always: "well, they were
For the Regis Centre site, Arun says the rationale for what they propose is as follows:
"For the Regis Centre site, creating an all-weather destination which will attract
visitors all year round was fundamental to the options developed within the feasibility
study, as was improving connectivity between the town centre and the seafront. Central
to this is the opportunity to build a 3,000 sq.m. Winter Garden on the Regis Centre
site, integrated with the new theatre.
The iconic seafront site could have a hotel, a raised seating area around the retail
and restaurants to improve views of the sea, and possibly a roof garden/performance
space above the new theatre. There will also be high quality residential accommodation
overlooking the Esplanade with improved landscaping and traffic management."
That all sounds very reasonable until you look at it closely. Nothing is explained
about the "new theatre" although they have admitted that this will only have about
450 seats, just 100 more than the present one and not enough to attract topline acts.
And a "winter garden?" Will that bring visitors flocking back to Bognor Regis again
and again, which is what is needed? Quite apart from the dismal fact that Arun is
totally unable to properly maintain the gardens it already has. Or will it become
a haven out of the rain for those who at present choose to inhabit other quiet corners
around the town centre? Here is Arun's "concept" picture:
Looks pretty dramatic, but is this just a sprat to catch a mackerel? Will it really
be like this, and anyway, is this appropriate to the heritage of Bognor Regis? Or
will it just turn out to be a large greenhouse with nothing much in it except a few
scruffy plants ‒ like the Station forecourt, which Arun is also supposed to maintain?
Our opinion is that this is a waste of a valuable seafront leisure site, which should
be accommodating a range of all-weather, all-year-round entertainments for all ages,
residents and visitors alike ‒ ones that people will come back to again and again,
because they are varied and fun. A shop or two, a restaurant and a hotel is not
going to fill the bill at all, and anyway, we’ve got those already. And nobody comes
to Bognor Regis to look at the flats, which are plainly going to be expensive pads
But that's only part of the "Gardens by the Sea" concept. There's also the "Linear
Park" to be considered. For more on this click park...