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.
Then they changed it to a multiplex cinema which nobody wanted, 80 flats, a hotel
and “bars and restaurants.”
Was that a good deal? Would that bring thousands of new visitors into the town to
spend their money? We thought not, neither did 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
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
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.
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!