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In 1998, frustrated by Arun District Council’s lack of attention to Bognor Regis Regeneration, particularly the town centre, and determined to be pro-active rather then merely critical, Bognor Regis Civic Society embarked upon a programme to establish the needs and desires of the town and its people, and the means of satisfying these.

This involved extensive consultation and investigation throughout the town, which culminated in the Society’s production of a Town Centre Masterplan identifying seven sites for potential redevelopment in order to achieve a town which is attractive, prosperous, comfortable and convenient to visitors and residents all year round.  In addition to this, recommendations were made in respect of transport access and parking to support these proposals.  The sites were:

  1. The Regis Centre site. We proposed an attractively iconic building with lots of glass to provide a wide variety of all-weather, all-year-round leisure activities for all ages, which might include theatre/cinema, shops, restaurants, cafes, bowling alley, ice rink, exhibition/performance areas, children’s play areas and much else besides.  Maybe also an hotel and large undercroft parking area.
  2. The Hothamton site. Removing and incorporating Queensway this would be redeveloped into a park-like green area with decorative lake and containing quality offices, shops and residential accomodation including an extended and improved Safeways (now Morrisons).
  3. London Road coach/lorry/car park. Redevelopment retaining car parking in decked form but with the remainder of this valuable and under-used area having residential accomodation.
  4. Railway Station/Covers site. Retaining the attractive listed station facade and in conjunction with Railtrack or its successor, this area could be redeveloped into a mix of offices, residential and an interlinking transport hub for all forms of public transport, together with decked parking facilities.
  5. Lido site.  Positioned on the promenade and foreshore area to the west of the Pier and the Royal Hotel, this would provide a focus for watersports leisure activities extending and increasing the use of an under-used section of the promenade.
  6. Former Esplanade Theatre site. A valuable site at present under-used, could be redeveloped for leisure use which might include restaurant/cafes, shops, possibly even another theatre or other entertainment facility.  This again would serve to extend the focus of the promenade westwards.
  7. Public Library site.  Sufficient space here for the Library to be extended and improved, possibly also redeveloped to also include offices or residential use as well.

The Leisure elements of these proposals are to be funded by cross-subsidy and section 106 agreements from the proceeds of the residential elements both in the town centre and elsewhere.

Our Town Centre Masterplan also highlighted the need for easy transport access to Bognor Regis from the A27.  To achieve this it was essential that the A29 should be upgraded and improved, including bridging the railway and a by-pass at Westergate to eliminate the level crossing there.  This is to be funded by sensitive and limited mixed use development to the west of Westergate.

 

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT

We took our proposals out to the people of the town by displaying them at the major supermarkets so that we could discuss them with shoppers and obtain feedback from the maximum number of people.  We also arranged a display at the Library and for a period of time at the Royal Hotel.  Thousands saw it and around 2000 people gave us a wide range of useful ideas and suggestions for improvements.  In general our proposals were very well received, and after a few modifications derived from this consultation we published a 31 page report outlining the results.

During all of this, and following the publication and presentation of our report, there was a deafening silence from Arun District Council.  Not encouraging, but it turned out that the Council was actually listening because in 2003 they paid Consultants some £50,000 to do much the same thing, except that there was vastly less public consultation and the results were more limited.  A revised 2004 version of this can be found on Arun’s website, please click here.

Nevertheless, this was a great success as far as we were concerned, because at last Arun District Council had woken up to Bognor Regis Town Centre Regeneration!  Now all we had to do was make sure they got it right!  And that’s a whole new story, for this please click on Arun District Council’s Proposals, and also current position...