Route to secure improved entertainment in Bognor Regis agreed
26 September 2007
The next steps in procuring an entertainment provision for Bognor Regis, as part of the development of the Regis Centre site by preferred developers St Modwen, were agreed yesterday (Monday 24 September).
The Bognor Regis Sub Committee has now decided on how to obtain the best operator to put the Council and St Modwen’s plans for an entertainment centre into practice.
If the plans proceed as expected, the operator could be selected as early as spring next year, allowing them the opportunity to contribute to the design process before any planning application is submitted.
It marks another positive step forward in the £100m regeneration of the town centre by St Modwen and the Council, who will jointly decide on the kind of entertainment provision that will go ahead on the Regis Centre site, as part of a larger leisure complex, offering facilities including bowling, restaurants, and bars.
In June this year, Full Council approved the findings of an independent study in to leisure provision in Bognor Regis by Locum Consulting. This report recommended a “Destination Film and Performance Venue” – a high quality cinema and dining experience coupled with a flexible performance auditorium – be pursued as best option.
The Sub Committee has subsequently recommended that Locum be engaged to work once again with the Council and St Modwen in this next stage of delivering entertainment provision, allowing them to build upon the conclusions of their original report by embarking on an extensive marketing campaign to identify the quality operator both the Council and St Modwen are seeking.
Councillor Norman Dingemans, Cabinet Member for Economic and Cultural Development and Chairman of the Bognor Regis Sub Committee, said: “At every stage, the process to appoint an operator and decide on the entertainment provision in Bognor Regis will be a joint one between the Council and St Modwen.
“The prospect of new, vibrant and inclusive entertainment provision in Bognor Regis is exciting, and the Council, with its development partner St Modwen, are committed to securing the most attractive, appropriate and sustainable option.”
Commenting on the outcome of last night’s Sub Committee meeting, Gary Morris, Senior Development Manager at St Modwen said: “We now have a clear mandate from the Council as to the procurement route for the operator of the new entertainment centre.
“We firmly believe that Locum’s experience in this field coupled with the determination of ourselves and the Council to deliver this facility will result in a successful outcome.”
The Leader of Arun District Council, Councillor Mrs Gillian Brown, was at pains to refute recent speculation and misinformation about the selection and decision making process. Cllr Mrs Brown said: “Despite what people are being told by those who have their own agendas to pursue, the truth of the matter is that the selection of the entertainment operator will be jointly made by Arun and St Modwen.”
She added: “We have specified previously and reiterated today what we want out of entertainment provision in Bognor Regis. Anybody who claims differently is either not listening or choosing deliberately not to listen.”
Cllr Mrs Brown also criticised the recent leaking of confidential documents to the local press, which sparked accusations of secrecy and concerns that the entertainment provision in Bognor Regis may never appear.
"This is not a question of keeping secrets; it is about respecting the commercial confidentiality and sensitivity of our development partners,” she said. “We are not trying to keep the public in the dark, we are simply following everyday procedures as with any other commercial development.
She warned: “We should be in no doubt that the private sector will not want to work with us if we cannot guarantee their right to confidentiality. The quite wrongful release of commercially sensitive information can damage our partners’ ability to successfully deliver a scheme.
“That said, all of the Council’s commitments to securing entertainment for Bognor Regis have been well documented and all have been discussed and agreed in public. The ’compensation’ provision referred to (in the Development Agreement) is quite simply the normal backstop provision contained in any contract - the ’what happens if all of our best efforts fail’ clause.
"The item in the local press which suggested that any receipts would be spent in Littlehampton is nothing more than scaremongering. I am happy to give my commitment that our efforts alongside St Modwen will be to deliver new entertainment provision for Bognor Regis, and hopefully the latest recommendations of the Sub Committee will reassure people that we only want the best for this town.”
The entertainment option is sure to include a level of ‘community use’, as specified by the Council in their project brief, though the Council will not set down a rigid and explicit framework for this use.
Richard McMann, Coordinator of the Bognor Regis Task Force, said: “Rather than simply specify distinct times and/or periods when certain activities must take place, the Council wants potential operators to be encouraged to demonstrate how they will utilise their expertise, experience and market knowledge to ensure provision which is accessible and appealing to the community and visitors.”
He added: “We want to secure an operation which meets the entertainment and cultural demands of Bognor Regis residents and visitors as event and activity organisers, performers, participants and spectators, enabling personal fulfilment through performance, exhibition and opportunities for learning and skills development.”
The Sub Committee also agreed to invite the Chairman of the Bognor Regis Vision Group to join the team progressing this work, alongside officers from the District and Town Council.
Alex Dodd M.Eng Hons, MIET
St. MODWEN PROPERTIES PLC
Office: 0121 2229400 Mobile: 07734179258
Fax: 0121 2229401 E-mail: ADodd@stmodwen.co.uk
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