Home Blogs ‘Hidden’ town centre business spaces to be highlighted by university research project

‘Hidden’ town centre business spaces to be highlighted by university research project

Making use of vacant commercial space in Bognor Regis town centre is the subject of a new research project commissioned by Arun District Council.

The £10,000 project is being conducted by researchers at the University of Chichester, focusing on building space above and behind retail units in the London Road and High Street areas of the town.

The project, led by Dr David Cooper and Gareth Sear, follows on from previous studies by the University into enterprise on the south coast, and is part of the institution’s own contribution to the regeneration agenda for the town.

The research findings could also benefit those businesses looking to grow and move out of the University’s own business incubator units into the town centre.

Dr David Cooper, Business Development Director at the University of Chichester, said: “We know from previous research there is not much office space in the area, and so there are a large number of home-based businesses, especially in the creative sector. The hidden spaces around retail units could be converted to office space and generate rental income for landlords and bring more people into the town centre”

“Our research will identify what these home-based businesses are looking for in commercial space and working with landlords we aim to develop a proposition that would encourage small businesses to move into unoccupied town centre accommodation.”

Arun District Council Leader Councillor Gillian Brown said: “We really welcome this important piece of work. As well as identifying these ‘hidden’ spaces that could be utilised in the future to accommodate existing or new businesses, we also want to hear from people who may be working from their homes and for whom space is a key barrier to growing their businesses.

“Being able to carry out this survey with the University of Chichester demonstrates again the commitment of not just Arun District Council to driving forward the regeneration and economic growth of Bognor Regis but the commitment of our key partners as well.

“We hope that over the coming weeks as the university contacts landlords across the town they help us build a picture of the number of vacant commercial spaces in Bognor Regis town centre and, equally, the demand for it. Our intention is for the research to be the start of a larger initiative where affordable premises are offered to growing companies for the benefit of our local economy and the vibrancy of the town centre.”

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