A REGENERATION scheme once worth £105 million is in doubt after the developer pulled out.
Birmingham-based St Modwen has told Arun District Council it no longer wants to build the two schemes in Bognor because of “market conditions”.
It was said that the proposal would regenerate the town with flats, a multiplex cinema, a new hotel and shops.
Despite the setback, the council has said it will push forward with the plans and submit a planning application of its own.
Council leader Gillian Brown said: “Our priority now is to ensure that any future scheme offers residents, businesses and visitors long-term benefits and value for money. We are confident that the proposed sites will attract further private sector investment into the town.”
St Modwen won a tender to deliver the developments at the Regis Centre and at Hothamton in Queensway in December 2007 – after 18 months of talks and public exhibitions. At the time it was valued at £105 million but last year was estimated to be worth only £25million.
Earlier this week, its London regional director confirmed the parting of ways in a letter to the council.
He said: “St Modwen appreciates the strong working relationship it has had with Arun District Council and considers the best way forward in the current market is to take stock of all the knowledge we have collectively assembled over this difficult economic period.
“We understand that the council will still want to pursue the redevelopment of the two sites and the most appropriate route for this is for the council to go back out to the market under a new procurement process.”
The plans included a four/five-screen multiplex, restaurants and bars, hotel, and 100 flats around the Regis Centre site.
For the Hothamton site, a 15,000sqft food store was planned along with a 295-space car park and 100 flats. Council bosses are now calling on councillors to approve spending of £500,000 to help submit a planning application to keep the schemes alive.
Liberal Democrat Francis Opple, council leader of the opposition, slammed the Tory administration for wasting taxpayers’ time and money.
He said: “They have wasted eight years, and hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money, to get Bognor no further forward. We have been telling them for years to listen to the people of the town. Arun Tories seem determined to press ahead with what St Modwen can't deliver. We will oppose these policies at full council, and ask that they be delayed until after next May's elections.”
Full council will meet on September 10 to discuss the plans.