Bognor Regis student flats above London Road shops narrowly approved

View of the proposed new flats from Bedford Street
View of the proposed new flats from Bedford Street

Plans to build six storeys of student flats above a two-storey Wilko store in Bognor Regis have been given the go-ahead.

The application for 104 units was approved by Arun District Council on Wednesday, despite concerns about overdevelopment and the possibility that the building would be used for tenants other than students.

At a meeting of the development control committee, Francis Oppler (Lib Dem, Orchard) said the development would be ‘completely out of keeping’, while Martin Lury (Lib Dem, Bersted) described it as ‘a bit of a carbuncle’.

Mr Oppler added: “It would forever change the character of the town centre of Bognor Regis, almost certainly not for the better.

“The proposal lends absolutely nothing to the regeneration of Bognor Regis. If anything, I think it would have the potential to put off future investors in the town.”

John Charles (Con, Barnham) did not agree.

He said: “Personally I think it’s a good scheme. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it at all. It’s what we need – we definitely need student accommodation.”

The scheme is aimed at second and third year students and does not include parking as the students will only be allowed to bring their cars if they are eligible for an on-street parking permit.

Hugh Coster (Ind, Aldwick East) warned members that the council would be opening itself up to a barrage of similar applications if it approved the scheme.

He said: “My old dad used to say, there’s a difference between scratching your face and tearing the skin off.

“Having students within the town is desirable but this is rather out of scale and could indeed leave us open to it being difficult to refuse similar applications all down London Road for other people who want to extend these things to an enormous height.”

The recommendation to approve the application was tied seven-seven before chairman Jamie Bennett used his casting vote to wave it through.

The committee also approved plans for 176-bedroom student accommodation on land east of the University of Chichester, in Upper Bognor Road.

In 2016, permission was given for a block of 136 bedrooms, staggered over six, six, four and three storeys. This latest application will see the 176 bedrooms staggered over six, six, five and five storeys.