This report seeks the Committee’s endorsement to the core elements of the Council’s submission to the Levelling Up Fund.
The Director of Place provided members with a presentation which updated Members on how work had progressed with the two outline projects. It would be for Members to confirm, having received this update, that they confirm they endorse the submission of the bid for funding from the Levelling Up Fund to support projects in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton.
A brief summary of the presentation is below;
§ There were a number of parameters that were required to be met in order to submit a bid to the Levelling Up Fund, some of these were a maximum of three projects per bid, if bid was unsuccessful the Council could re-bid in the next round, work for this bid is required to start in 2021/22 and any successful bid must be concluded by 2024/25, support from local MP was encouraged, the Council would need to provide 10% of funding and the bid must be submitted by the deadline of 18 June 2021.
§ The Council would be submitting two bid projects, Littlehampton Seafront & Public Realm based on refresh of the original report completed by LDA Consulting in 2017. There had been public consultation completed on the original proposal. The second bid for Bognor Regis Theatre, the proposals had been developed alongside the Place St Maur designs.
§ The key strategy for Littlehampton had been to improve the link between the seafront and the town. The rest of the proposal is focused on the greensward down on the seafront, particularly around the concessions building and Banjo Road. Removal of the toilet block to provide a better public realm link with the Harbour Park, provide new toilets with an external shower block providing a better arrival view to those visitors coming to the seafront. Banjo Road area focused on providing a sheltered place to sit down and have something to eat. There is consideration within the bid to add some lighting along with a form of light installation to Oyster Pond, as this would provide additional reasons to keep people and visitors in the area longer.
§ The Bognor Regis Theatre improvements had been split in to two phases, phase two is a project for the future and not part of this bid. Phase one is to build a wraparound area of the existing Theatre comprising of new front of house facilities with increased seating and other internal improvements. There would also be the inclusion of 4 new studio areas and exhibition space.
The Chair reminded members that their role tonight was to decide if the Council should proceed with the bid, discussion should not focus on making changes or adding in additional aspects. The bid was as it had been presented to the Committee.
In turning to the debate, the Chair of the Levelling Working Party was invited to speak first, he offered his thanks to those Officers and Members who had been involved in all aspects of the work completed to get the Council to the stage of the presentation that had just been given. He asked if the Council had been in touch with Nick Gibb MP to ensure that his support is documented for this bid submission. He addressed concerns that he was aware of regarding the Bognor Regis improvements, by stating that this is the start of work to come for Bognor and it was a case of let’s get the ball rolling with the improvements and get improvements happening for Bognor Regis. The Director of Place advised that he had spoken with Nick Gibb MP, and confirmed that he was supportive of these proposals, a letter has been sent to him to request a letter of support to include with the Council’s bid submission.
A summary of other comments made by members and non-members of the Committee are below;
§ Concerns raised regarding the inclusion of Surrey street in Littlehampton were raised as members felt this was an important linkage and should be included, it was confirmed that Surrey street was not included within this bid.
§ There was overall enthusiasm for the proposals for Littlehampton, however the same enthusiasm for Bognor Regis Theatre proposal was not felt by some members, discussions on delaying this work and removing this part of the bid were had.
§ It was commented that as the viability of Littlehampton effected the surrounding villages, had consideration been given to contacting the other MP’s to add their support to the bid submission.
§ Further discussion was had relating to the option of splitting the bid submission, with the option of submitting the bid for Littlehampton but for the Bognor Regis bid to be submitted at a later date. It was explained that this was not an option in terms of the parameters for the bid submission as the Council is limited to one successful bid only.
§ Some members raised concerns that Whitbread may not have been involved in discussions with the Council for phase two of the improvements to Bognor Regis Theatre and should they not be supportive of the proposals, this would cause the Council problems when it came to executing those proposals. It was confirmed that the Council had been in discussions with Whitbread and they were supportive of the proposals that had been presented to members. However broader conversations around leases had not taken place yet but were due to take place soon.
The Leader of the Council stated that there was great enthusiasm for Littlehampton, and as a Council we were utilising our natural assets to get people into our District and Towns. He further stated that he was a strong advocate for ensuring that Surrey street was included in some way. He said that with the proposals for Bognor Regis there was more nervousness, however, he believed that that these plans showed ambition and that the Council would be investing in Bognor Regis. He stresses the importance of the fact that the Government were investing in our District and that more importantly it would be a catalyst to both public and private investment in the future. The recommendations were then proposed and seconded.
1. they endorse the submission of a bid for funding to the Levelling Up Fund for funding to support projects in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton to this report; and;
2. authorise the Director of Place to finalise the bid documentation and make changes as considered appropriate without changing the core messages or details and to seek letters of such from interested parties and partners.