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THE REGIS CENTRE SITE  (Pictured right)

IS THIS A DISASTER IN THE MAKING?

This large seafront site is the last available and is called by Arun District Council “the jewel in the crown” and “the leisure heart”

Yet they wanted to cover it with 168 flats in a nine storey building,  In exchange for that there was a bowling alley and a bit of landscaping - oh, and a theatre (which we’ve got already) and maybe one or two other things that we’ve got already.

Now they’ve changed it to a multiplex cinema which nobody wants, 80 flats, a hotel and “bars and restaurants.”

Is that a good deal? Will that bring thousands of new visitors into the town to spend their money? We think not, neither do most of the townsfolk, which is why 10,158 town centre users signed a petition saying: No flats on the Regis Centre site.  Keep it for leisure purposes only.

Bognor Regis Civic Society is fully supportive of Bognor Regis Regeneration and recognises the importance of this for the town.  But what is regeneration?  New shops?  New houses? New roads? New people?  And which comes first, and where does the money come from?

WHAT DOES REGENERATION MEAN?

The Society considered this very carefully when preparing our proposals for our Masterplan, the first comprehensive modern Town Centre Masterplan.  The problem at the moment is that there are not enough people visiting and not enough money being spent in Bognor Regis.  The result is that quality shops and facilities become unviable - so they close and are replaced by lesser quality shops or not at all.  Tourism has declined over the years, with the same result.  And the vast majority of dwellings in Bognor Regis town centre are low income, which also has the same result. The end product of all this is a self-perpetuating downward spiral, where people requiring quality facilities go elsewhere, and all that remains is low income, low-spend.

HOW DO WE REVERSE THIS?

We have to attract new people with good spending power to visit, work in or live in the town, and if they are visitors it must be on a repeat basis.  Simply building shops or houses is not good enough, since there is no good reason for the right occupants to come in the first place.  What is needed, in the first instance, is a major visitor attraction to repeatedly draw people in from a wide radius, who will then use and enjoy other parts of the town, spending as they go - and will return to do it again and again.  

Secondly, we need large, quality office accommodation in the heart of the town (as in Chichester, Worthing and Brighton) where workers with money in their pockets come out into the town to use and enjoy the shops and facilites.

Thirdly, we need to raise the low-spend demographics of the town centre with quality housing, as opposed to flats which, even if high quality, tend to attract weekenders or retired people, neither of which will spend a great deal in the town.

All of this will require considerable commitment, courage, foresight and determination from the Councils, but it has been done elsewhere and can be done here.

WHY WILL THIS REGENERATE THE TOWN?

This will not do the job on its own, and there is much else that must be done as well - provision of thousands more jobs for a start. But it will provide the catalyst, the kick-start.  Quality shops will arrive, following the new money, more people will come for the new shops and word will get around that Bognor Regis is a new and interesting place to come to.  And to ensure this we must be sure that we welcome all these new people with easy access, plus convenient and cheap parking.  All we have to do is think of our town as a super-size shopping mall; if people love to come here and have fun they’ll tell others who will come too.  The wealth they bring will filter through the whole place - improvements in all sectors, socially, culturally, even educationally with young people having good reason to stay on here to live and work.  In the words of the gurus:  it’s simple - but it ain’t easy!

WHAT’S BEING DONE NOW?

We are in danger of making serious mistakes even before it all gets off the drawing board.  If the wrong buildings go up because of short-sightedness or financial greed, we will be stuck with it for maybe 100 years or more.  We believe the people of Bognor Regis are wise enough to know this (see Regis Centre site below) but the Councils are not listening to them.

Have a look at our following pages Our Proposals, Arun District Council’s Proposals and Bognor Regis Regeneration - Current Position and draw your own conclusions.  If you’d like to discuss it, come along to one of our meetings, click on Public Meetings. Or click on Contact Us to let us know your views.  And, of course, we always welcome new  members, click on Join Us to see more.

Regeneration is not just about what the Civic Society thinks, nor Arun District Council, Bognor Regis Town Council or any other particular group.  There are more than 60,000 people in the wider area around the town, and Regeneration is about what everybody thinks.  So we want to know what you think, whatever it is, from suggestions as to what should or should not be included, road layout, seafront facilities, marketing, events - anything you like.  Read the next three pages OP, ADCP, and BRR-CP (full titles in red above) and then let us know what you think via Contact Us.  Looking forward to hearing from you!