Plans for new student flats on a Bognor Regis site used to park cars, lorries and coaches shows a ‘lack of vision’, according to one town councillor.
The site off London Road is used by Arun District Council as a public car park as well as a lorry/coach park.
Last week council cabinet members agreed to market the site to be developed for student accommodation, retaining a public car park with enhanced access to Hotham Park.
The public toilets would be demolished and not replaced as usage is low, the site is far away from the town centre and alternative facilities are available within the park itself according to the council.
The proposals are being driven by the expansion of the university’s Bognor Regis campus, with an increased demand for residential accommodation for students expected.
However Steve Goodheart, an independent Bognor Regis town councillor, said the announcement ‘once again shows the lack of vision for the bigger picture’.
He called for the nearby police station site to be included in proposals as he argued the current building is too big for police requirements and a smaller facility could be included within a redevelopment scheme.
This could enable a number of different uses for the site to be developed.
He added: “The car/coach park should not be viewed as a stand-alone site but included within the regeneration plans made for the Regis Centre and Hothamton Car Park.
“If Arun District Council were to talk to independent professional advisors and investors on the best outcome for Arun District Council regarding income from accommodation they would be told that the three sites should be linked together to enable cross-subsidy.
“This would enable the local communities to see true regeneration with public realm projects alongside long-term maintenance income and the three sites supporting each other.”
Originally the university was approached about developing the student flats itself, but after investigations and negotiations it decided to withdraw from the scheme.
According to council officers there has been significant interest in the site from private operators and developers.
Commercial agents are due to employed to act for the council to offer the site to the market for expressions of interest to tease out all interested parties.
Three quarters of capital receipts from any scheme would be retained in the property investment fund and reinvested in commercial property, while the other 25 per cent would be added to the council’s general fund reserves.
Ownership and control of the public car park would be retained by the council.
Currently the lorry/coach parking area also includes 12 bays which are exclusively used by Royal Mail delivery vans where annual permits are purchased.
An area of the former lorry park is allocated for the exclusive use by the University of Chichester, which issues permits to students.
The Edward Bryant School also issues permits to parents allowing them to park for a limited duration during term times at start/finish of the school day.
Meanwhile there are 98 publicly available spaces as well as six disabled bays and one motorcycle bay.
For 2017/18 a total of 42,294 parking tickets were bought, plus 739 tickets for lorries or coaches.
The income from the pay and display tickets was £67,000 in 2017/18, with a total of £5,000 received from Royal Mail. The total gross annual income from the site in 2017/18 was just over £72,000.
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