New promenade units could improve bandstand’s use

The Bandstand on Bognor Regis' promenade
The Bandstand on Bognor Regis' promenade

New permanent catering outlets on Bognor Regis’ promenade could increase the use of the bandstand and ‘bring it ‘more sharply into focus’.

Arun District Council’s Bognor Regis regeneration subcommittee approved a style guide and proposed layout for the stalls zone of the seafront near Clarence Road on Monday night.

They also supported a grant application for up to £50,000 from the coastal revival fund to improve the bandstand.

Up to three potential sites for permanent catering buildings with indoor space for customers suitable for all year operation are proposed.

Meanwhile a location for a kiosk pitch has been identified with the potential for others on a temporary basis

Councillors heard the first-council funded permanent catering unit would be built east of the bandstand and the structure could potentially be used for café seating.

The council would have to secure planning permission and tender for operators.

Existing operators are on short-term leases and could apply to run the new buildings.

Caroline Gosford, senior regeneration officer, explained that the unit would operate as more of a cafe during the day and a restaurant in the evening.

Feature lighting would also be explored for the bandstand.

She said: “At the moment it needs to be brought more sharply into focus.”

Gill Brown, leader of the council, said: “I think this is a very exciting proposal. We have to remember we need to have cohesive design proposals for the seafront.”

Councillors were told adequate space would be maintained along the promenade for access, while a style guide put together by an architect suggested new structures required a modern and timeless design to fit in with existing buildings and planned development.

This was challenged by Marine councillor Matt Stanley, who raised the findings of a 2013 seafront perception study on the style of future buildings on the seafront.

Afterwards he said: “The community clearly favoured a traditional theme and tonight the committee have completely ignored their views.

“I struggle to understand why this council constantly believes they know best.”

Officers explained how they wanted ‘something that sits into the seafront rather than leaps out at you’.

Several councillors also asked if any action could be taken to increase the number of bands using the bandstand during the year.

Officers described how the bandstand in Hotham Park was well used and this could just be ‘musicians voting with their feet because it’s too difficult to play [at the seafront bandstand]’.

The recommendations approved by the subcommittee will now go to full council.