Arun District Council leader Gill Brown was challenged over the slow speed of regeneration in Bognor Regis by public, political and business figures on Wednesday (July 12).
Questions over the progress of plans to transform the Regis Centre and Hothamton sites were raised by resident Terry Ellis, councillor Paul Wells and Dave Myers, of the Bognor Regis Regeneration Board.
Mr Myers asked what progress had been made since options for the sites went before councillors in March.
Mrs Brown said: “The council has been working hard to progress these schemes. This has included speaking to key stakeholders, potential funders and statutory partners. Preparatory work in such a complex scheme takes time to progress and there is considerable work going on in the background.
“The council clearly wishes to move forward as quickly as possible and to maintain momentum.
“Proposals for Hothamton’s linear park will be the first to come forward in greater detail and a report setting out the next steps is expected in October.”
Mr Ellis criticised the council’s leadership for ‘failing to guide its officers to produce workable, affordable solutions to regenerate the area’. He argued Bognor Regis was in the same position as it was in the 1970s.
Mrs Brown said she did not share the same views, with public and private sector investment of £280million secured for the town.
This included projects like the relief road and more than £100million of current projects like the university’s engineering and technology park.
Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Wells moved discussion away from the two main sites and focused on the progress of the seafront strategy, first drafted in 2009.
He said the only major progress had been the fitness trail and highlighted concerns over year-by-year leases for concessionaires.
He said: “There has been a lot of talk and a lot of plans but on the seafront there has been a lot of lack of delivery.
“I would hope the leader will take this on board and start to move forward plans for the seafront. I know there’s a lot of attention on the Regis Centre and Hothamton site but the seafront is the jewel in the crown for Bognor Regis.”
Mrs Brown said she had ‘no concerns’ about the speed of regeneration.
“All these big schemes do take time,” she said.
“They are not going to happen overnight.”