First look at Bognor Regis ‘masterplan’

Artist's impression of the new theatre, from the Bognor Regis 'Masterplan'
Artist's impression of the new theatre, from the Bognor Regis 'Masterplan'

A seafront viewing platform inspired by William Blake and a redesigned theatre, which has already been compared to both a policeman’s hat and a nipple, are among the designs laid out by the Bognor Regis Masterplan Options Report.

Compiled by a team of consultants, including Hemingway Design and Kay Elliot Architects, the 50-page summary document is an updated report on the £260k feasibility studies which were commissioned last July to consider the ‘development options’ on the Regis Centre and Hothamton car park sites.

A 'new park' option is detailed for the Hothamton site

A 'new park' option is detailed for the Hothamton site

It is set to be discussed at the Bognor Regis regeneration subcommittee next Monday, February 27.

‘Two distinct approaches’ are set out for each site by the report.

For the Regis Centre these are a new theatre option or a refurbished option.

Both options outline a ‘winter gardens’ feature, a new hotel with relocated pub and a residential block with restaurants and retail.

A reference image for the viewing platform inspired by William Blake's painting Jacob's Ladder

A reference image for the viewing platform inspired by William Blake's painting Jacob's Ladder

Alongside these are a step/ramp access to the beach and a ‘new public art feature, suggested as a spire, to act as a location marker’.

The first also includes a decked car park, refurbished gardens along the Esplanade and roof gardens/performance space.

While the second, refurbished theatre proposal, would retain the existing surface car park with an ‘improved surface’ that could, it suggests, ‘host events/markets etc’.

The report presents a ‘new park’ option or a ‘perimeter development option’ for the Hothamton site.

The first is labelled a ‘significant piece of public realm’ which would incorporate replacement parking spaces, retail pavilions, new children’s play area and a ‘possible senior gym’ with ‘two or more buildings’ to the western side on the site of the exisiting health centre.

It is suggested that these would accommodate retail at ground level with residential, student accommodation or ‘other forms of residential use’ on the upper floors.

The perimeter development option would see the current parking replaced by a decked facility with new development around the perimeter for retail and residential.

It states in this option, ‘we have assumed the exisiting children’s play area and sunken gardens will be refurbished as part of the project’.

When considering the leisure options, the report explains the designs have been created to appeal to the ‘widest possible audience’, both local and from futher afield, and to be ‘suitable across all seasons’.

It adds families ‘have been at the very heart of the thought processes’ and ‘thinking has also been steered by the need to create a truly compelling and unique visitor destination’.

Hemingway Design’s input states that the town ‘continues to punch below its weight and foster negative perceptions’ while other seaside destinations are seeing ‘fortunes turning around’.

It goes on to say ‘there has been unfulfilled opportunity’ for many years, but that it is entering ‘a phase of major change’ - both due to the ‘significant investment’ and university’s tech campus development and digital hub at the station.

“There is no fairy dust to be sprinkled,” it states, “but rather a complex and diverse set of actions and situations that can help to to help a place improve for its residents and visitors.”

Hemingway Design then highlights ‘additional themes and features’ that it believes ‘will help to animate the site and its surroundings’, which includes sea bathing huts, the William Blake seafront viewing platform and winter gardens public realm/venue.

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