Calls for fun not flats to be focus of Bognor regeneration.

Cllr Jim Brooks outside The Regis Centre
Cllr Jim Brooks outside The Regis Centre

Town councillor Jim Brooks insists ‘flats should not be a priority’ of the regeneration.

He said: “Arun District Council have been determined to build flats on that site and we have been determined to stop them.”

Instead cllr Brooks believes leisure facilities are key and has stepped out of the decision process in order to present his own proposal.

“There was a plan in the 70s that said ‘it was Bognor for the houses and Littlehampton for the leisure’ and it feels like that is what they [Arun] have been doing ever since.

“We want indoor entertainment, we want a big hall, if we still had the Royal Hall and the bar we would be making a profit now.

“We would have bands and indoor markets.”

Cllr Brooks revealed his ‘fear’ that the decision ‘will be governed by money’.

He said: “They [Arun] keep using the phrase ‘commercially viable’, why does it have to be?”

His view is that the ‘last spot on the seafront’ is a ‘lovely opportunity’ to attract spending into the town.

“Arun are saying ‘if you want this you will need this number of flats’. They aren’t looking at the money coming into the town, they are only thinking about the money on the site.”

Instead his proposal suggests retaining the Alexandra Theatre inside a ‘modern iconic structure’ with multi-purpose space for ‘exhibitions, conferences and entertainment’.

Rentable areas for retail and a ‘roof garden/food hall’ on the top floor are also outlined to make the most of ‘lovely views’.

He also suggests extending the parking at The Regis Centre – converted to a ‘pay by foot’ system, utilising renewable energy and saving the need for ‘developer’s profit’ by the council acting as project manager.

He said: “The principle of our local authority keeping the profits makes sense.”

However he added: “Arun have been spectacularly unsuccessful in meeting the wants of the people.

“Lets hope they are genuine now and they are going to listen to people, that is why I put my ‘little guidelines’ down.”

Arun District Council were given an opportunity to reply and said: ‘I am afraid there is no one available for comment’.

The Observer will seek to address this at a meeting with Karl Roberts, Arun’s director of planning and economic regeneration, on June 1.

For more of this article see this week’s paper.

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