A £35million engineering and digital technology park will provide Bognor Regis with the ‘higher skills’ it needs to grow, councillors heard.
The University of Chichester’s expansion plans for its Bognor campus were given the green light by Arun District Council’s development control committee on Wednesday (July 13).
The teaching facility will create an estimated 350 job and extra £12.4million student spend in the town by the 2023/24 academic year.
Vice chancellor professor Clive Behagg said: “The university’s engineering and digital technology park will produce the engineering and scientific skills that the UK economy needs, particularly at a time when Brexit gives an even greater emphasis on the need for our economy to be internationally and industrially competitive.”
The development will focus on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) courses, creating up to 1,500 extra student places and 300 work placements by 2023/24.
Professor Behagg said the facility would link schools, colleges, councils and businesses to ‘raise the aspirations’ of young people.
He said the decline of the British seaside holiday had left a ‘low-value economy’ in Bognor but it was a town of ‘huge potential’.
He hoped it would enable qualified students to stay in the area, with more than half currently leaving to find work after graduating.
The plans, which includes the first phase of student accommodation, gained support of Bognor Regis Regeneration Board and numerous businesses.
The committee heard the technology park would be a ‘landmark’ building, forming an eastern gateway to the town.
But Bognor Regis Town Council, although supportive of the development, objected to the ‘unsympathetic and austere’ design.
Aldwick West councillor Phil Hitchins said: “I am fully behind this. It has been long awaited and will put some iconic buildings at the eastern gateway to Bognor Regis.
“I feel that really Bognor Regis Town Council has missed an opportunity here because they say it will have an unsympathetic and austere design. That is part of the iconicness. It is different but will make people think about coming into Bognor Regis.”
Permission was granted unanimously.