Victorian elegance on the seafront re-imagined for 21st century living
When Nick Laurence first came across the former “Royal” hotel on Bognor Regis seafront three years ago, the building was in bad shape. The old Victorian property had succumbed to the passage of time since its glory days of the 1880s. Nick, who has more than 25 years of experience in high-end development, discovered that planning permission was already in place to convert The Royal into apartments. Unfortunately, the plans just weren’t viable.
But Nick had sensed an opportunity to re-imagine and revive the building for 21st century living. “I spent several months looking at re-arranging the existing planning permission to make it a more workable proposition,” said Nick, who heads Metamorph Management development company.
“Having worked through the options, I decided the project was very much worthwhile. I’m very keen on building properties that are just slightly off the norm. That’s always been something we’ve been focused on, homes that are a little more high quality and a bit more eclectic.”
The perfect combination
The Royal was perfect for Nick’s vision to create somewhere uniquely special. He brought together a team of experts from within Sussex. Architects Randall Design Group from Chichester designed a scheme that incorporates the heart of the original building with new additions to either side to complement and enhance the appearance of The Royal.
Award-winning construction company, King & Drury joined the team. With expertise in refurbishment and reviving old buildings fit for today’s lifestyles, it was the perfect combination. Keen to keep the local connections, Nick also engaged first class firms based in Bognor Regis, Bradley Electrical and AD Broughton Ltd plumbing and heating engineers.
A new era for Bognor Regis
Bognor Regis lies on the south coast about 70 miles from central London. Sheltered by the Selsey peninsula and the South Downs, Bognor Regis has been named one of the sunniest places in Britain. There’s even a touch of royal sparkle with the name Regis bestowed In 1929 when King George V and Queen Mary chose Bognor as their favoured place for the king to convalesce after illness.
In the 21st century, regeneration is creating a smart, modern town with many large retailers moving to the area. New home developments are taking shape at the edge of the old town and period properties along the seafront combine the best of Victorian architecture with contemporary interiors.
Character and elegance
Nick says, “The Royal is no ordinary building and as it’s on the seafront, it’s been built to be durable as possible. We’ve replaced pretty much everything in the building including every single window and we’ve re-roofed every single section of the roofing. To all intents and purposes, whilst it is refurbished, it’s almost a brand new building but with all the old character and elegance of the original.”
The results speak for themselves. Before the first people move in later this spring, some 85% of the 27 apartments are already reserved or sold, with just four still available.
Gail Chisham of Henry Adams Bognor Regis & Aldwick, said, “It’s been wonderful to be involved with the revival of The Royal’s fortunes. I’ve lived in Bognor since the 1970s and have fond personal memories of this grand old building. It captures the imagination because the location is just perfect – not only does it stand prominently on the seafront just a few steps from the beach, you’re also moments from the town centre. And beyond that is all the rolling countryside of the South Downs National Park.”
“But it’s the apartments themselves which have caused the real stir. There’s nothing quite like these homes in the region in terms of their unique design and quality of specification, and of course the views are just breathtaking.”
21st century standards
While the window sizes reflect the generous large openings designed in the Victorian era, Metamorph Management has installed double glazing for warmth and durability.
Having specialised in London schemes over the decades, during recent years Nick and his team have developed around 70,000 sq ft of residential property in Bognor Regis, including new staff accommodation for Butlins.
“Effectively we’ve not only refurbished an iconic Victorian seafront building,” said Nick, “but we’ve also created 21st century London-standard homes. The Royal is easily on a par with the higher standards of developments in London.”
“It’s the specification, the attention to detail and the way that everything is finished. The Royal genuinely is a significant cut above the rest, certainly of everything I’ve seen. You just have to see it to believe it. For example, in many of the flats, the ceiling heights are very high and some of the flats have spectacular amounts of natural light.”
Specification includes Amtico flooring in each reception room and hallway, and bedrooms carpeted ready for owners to move straight in, kick off their shoes and feel right at home. Contemporary bathrooms have underfloor heating and low-level lighting while the Schuller kitchens are finished with quartz worktops and Bosch appliances. Apartments at The Royal are currently available from just £145,000 and the Show Home is open for covid-safe viewings by appointment with Gail Chisham and her team at Henry Adams who can be contacted at email@example.com or call 01243 842123.
As people start moving in to their new seafront homes at The Royal, they’ll be bringing life back to the landmark building as it enters a new era.
Nick adds, “As you approach Bognor along The Esplanade, suddenly you turn the corner and you’ve got this really fantastic, gleaming building. Everybody that passes by, literally so many people, are just absolutely over the moon that it has been revived with new purpose.”
“We’re extremely proud of The Royal but, for us, it’s also about how the people of Bognor feel about the town. Now the building is really coming together as the final components such as the railings are being added, I hope people get a real feel-good factor when they walk by. We like to think it’s a sign of good things to come for Bognor Regis.”
Contributed by Sussex Exclusive property writer Bridget Cordy
Special thanks to the Bognor Regis Museum and Studio Canal for use of Historical Images