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Bognor Regis’ £6.5 million theatre plan set for vote

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Plans to create a modernised £6.5 million theatre in Bognor Regis have been given the go-ahead by a local council committee.

Proposals to increase the seating capacity of the Alexandra Theatre, build a new rehearsal studio and create a new bar and cafe were agreed by Arun District Council’s Bognor Regis regeneration subcommittee.

The venue, which is owned by Arun District Council and run by Arun Arts Trust, plans to increase its auditorium capacity from more than 350 seats to around 450 seats and create a bar and cafe that will be run in-house. It also hopes to demolish a pub in front of the venue and create a new foyer for the theatre.

The local authority expects to pay for the £6.5 million modernisation of the theatre as part of a wider £40 million town centre regeneration project being carried out by property developer St Modwen.

Under this, kiosks to be built nearby would create revenue to help subsidise the theatre.

The council will make the final decision on the scheme when it meets on March 20.

In 2007, local authority proposals to demolish the Alexandra Theatre were met with opposition from Bognor residents.

Anthony Everitt, senior economic development officer at Arun District Council, said that this latest scheme was in response to that opposition.

He said: “I hope that the St Modwen’s scheme moves forward, generates the money to create the theatre and the theatre becomes the best in class in terms of a 450-seater venue, displaying some brilliant and innovative shows which meet the market need in Bognor Regis.

“The trust itself has a purpose to allow people to access theatre and the arts so we hope that the new rehearsal studio will be a good community facility so that the theatre will be a place where they can see professional shows and also learn about theatre.”

He added: “Bognor Regis is a seaside resort and entertainment and a night-time offer is vital to transform people from being daytime visitors into getting them to stay overnight.  So as part of the wider package which includes a cinema, bars, restaurants and public squares as well as the theatre, we think this will provide a compelling night time economy offer which will raise the quality in the town.”

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