Agenda item

Design Brief for the conversion of the former Brewers Fayre Pub

The purpose of this report is to present members with the proposed brief for the design feasibility work that will explore options for the redevelopment of the former Brewers Fayre Pub back into its original use as the ‘Royal Hall’, a multipurpose venue providing facilities for organised events.



            The Regeneration Lead introduced the report to members where he explained that the purpose of the report was to provide members with a follow up from the Extraordinary Economy Committee meeting held on 19 June 2023 which contained the proposed brief for the design feasibility work that was agreed to be completed at the extraordinary meeting.


            The Chair stated he was pleased to see the report and design brief, he confirmed that conversations had taken place regarding the halls capacity for large events, 400 seated with a potential for 600/700 standing, and how this alongside the refurbishment of the Theatre would make it an attractive venue. He then invited comments and questions from members where the following points and statements were made, comments of support for a multipurpose venue were made, it was acknowledged that that the amount of work required would be substantial, however it would create a good connection between the seafront and the town and would be an investment for Bognor Regis.


            Concern was raised regarding the cost to deliver the project in its entirety, it was questioned where the potential £2/3 million come from to ensure delivery. The Chair stated not all of the detail had been confirmed at this point, this was the early stages of the process. He also advised that there were companies who would be interested in taking on the Royal Hall however, he confirmed that the market had not yet been tested for this interest as yet. 


            Further concern was expressed that the idea of returning the site back to a ‘Royal Hall’ was felt to be a ‘romantic’ notion. When realistically the site required completely modernising.  It was suggested that the term ‘Royal Hall’ should be ditched with a focus on building a space that allowed for long term future use for events such as gigs and sporting events.


            Debate then returned to the earlier concern raised regarding how the costs would be found to support delivery of modernising the site. It was commented that the council was currently undergoing a cost saving exercise and how did the project now fit with that focus. It was also queried if consideration had been given to researching a partnership with Butlins alongside linking with coach companies for securing day trippers to the area. It was stated by one member that whilst they agreed with some of the comments made regarding the potential future uses of the site, the initial cost for the feasibility study alone was £40,000 and once this had been completed the costs would then significantly increase for delivery and the council could not afford this, consideration should be given to knocking it down and rebuilding as this could present a more affordable option. Comments regarding the site being in conflict with the Theatre were also raised as there was an overlap in event offerings between the two. It was also stated that should a private company be brought in to run the site, this would then see a focus for that business to gain profit and was that the best outcome for the council.


The Vice-Chair was invited to speak where he addressed some of the points raised in relation to finances of the project. He also confirmed that that the residents of Bognor Regis had been very vocal about not wanting any more residential units on the seafront. The vision was to provide a tourist attraction for visitors, large conventions, exhibitions and gigs and at this time members were not being asked to make any final decisions or commitments, this was reviewing the options available for consideration.


The Regeneration Lead was then asked to respond to the question raised regarding the statement made by the Chair in relation to how many companies the Council were aware of with an interest in running the site. He confirmed that there had been no formal interest at the current time.


            A request was made by Councillor Gunner for a recorded vote to be completed.


            The recommendations were proposed by Councillor Walsh and seconded by Councillor Needs.


            The Committee


                        RESOLVED that


a)    it consented to the production of a design feasibility study for the conversion of the former Brewers Fayre Pub into a multi-use hall.

b)    It approved the project brief (appendix A) as the basis for the design feasibility work.


            Those voting for the recommendations were Councillors Lawrence, Nash, Needs, Northeast, Penycate. Walsh and Yeates (7). Those voting against the recommendations were Councillors Cooper, Gunner, Lloyd and Pendleton (4). There were no abstentions.


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