A review of Arun’s visitor economy has been undertaken with the objective being to provide a review of the provision of tourism infrastructure across the Arun District planning area alongside an assessment of future demand. This includes to how the sector might grow together with the spatial implications of this growth, to support emerging planning policy in the new Local Plan.
Whilst this study has been commissioned for planning purposes, its outputs are far-reaching and need to be shared with a wider audience in order to maximise the up-take of the opportunities identified.
This report provides a summary of the study and seeks endorsement for both it and the proposed recommendations/actions that the council may wish to take forward.
Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Planning Policy Team Leader presented the report which provided a summary of a review undertaken into Arun’s visitor economy. The study sought to provide a review of the provision of tourism infrastructure across the Arun District planning area alongside an assessment of future demand, including how the sector might grow and the spatial implications of this growth in supporting emerging planning policy in the new Local Plan. He highlighted the findings of a study done on the tourism and visitor accommodation sector and its importance to the local economy, with the District receiving 4 million visitors and direct spend of £221 million supporting over 4,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
Members then took part in a full debate on the item where a number of points were raised including:
· the rise in the number of AirBNB accommodation in the area, especially in Arundel
· the impact of the District’s demographics on the accommodation requirements of visitors
· the lack of mentioning significant stakeholders in the report (the Town Councils, the Regeneration Board, Bognor Regis BID) who are coming together to support regeneration across the District
· Bognor Regis having needed a mid-range mid-priced hotel for a long time
· support for appropriate AirBNB accommodation in the area as it was what people wanted
· an increase in the Leisure and Hotel sector resulting in a corresponding increase in jobs whilst unemployment in the area was significantly below the national average, and the need to coordinate to ensure a labour supply (with the past experience of Butlins having to accommodate additional staff in order to expand given as an example)
· the need to reinvigorate relations with Northbrook College which offered a range of Leisure and Hotel sector courses
· previous difficulties in attracting hotels to the area and whether a specific allocation of a budget could be used to help facilitate interested parties
· concern for holiday accommodation development in the countryside and a preferred focus on town development
· the need to support the delivery of good quality events with good quality accommodation and associated infrastructure (for example, park and ride)
· the need to consider different types of people and the different types of experiences they may be seeking
· support for smaller developments that could be countryside-based (e.g. camping, glamping)
· the need for any development to take onboard Arun’s key theme of sustainability
· from a planning perspective, the lack of hotels in the area could be telling us something about the market and the need to know more about the expected demand and what needed to be catered for before decisions on what and where could be made
· a clear indication that the Council was seeking to support tourism across the District
Following further discussion Cllr Thurston proposed an amendment, that ‘sustainable’ be added to recommendation 2 before ‘tourist accommodation development’ so that the recommendation would read:
2. The Council take a ‘pro-active’ approach (as set out in section 1.7 bullet 4) to bring forward sustainable tourist accommodation development through working with stakeholders to identify suitable sites opportunities, including examining the Council’s own estate;
This was seconded by Cllr Jones. The amendment was then debated by Members where a number of points were raised including:
· defining ‘sustainability’ in the ecological sense as defined by the Council’s greener initiatives and carbon pledges, rather than financial sustainability, and businesses willing to work in that way
· problems with narrowing the definition of ‘sustainable’ and limiting or excluding other things that might also be necessary to a business’ sustainability
Following a vote, the amendment was NOT CARRIED.
The substantive recommendations were then proposed by Councillor Bower and seconded by Councillor Hughes.
RESOLVED – That
1. The Tourism Hospitality & Visitor Economy Study form part of the evidence base for the Local Plan Update and be published on the Council’s evidence web pages;
2. The Council take a ‘pro active’ approach (as set out in section 1.7 bullet 4) to bring forward tourist accommodation development through working with stakeholders to identify suitable sites opportunities, including examining the Council’s own estate;
3. The Council support the future provision of a new large scale holiday site either through an allocation in the Local Plan Update, or through the use of an appropriately worded policy;
4. The Council support policies within the Local Plan update that encourage the forms and range of hotel and visitor accommodation identified under section 1.10 of this report;
5. The Study be referred to the Economy Committee to consider and agree appropriate economic recommendations.