Digital hub planned for Worthing town centre

A thriving creative hub in the heart of Worthing could be expanded to house the technology brains of the future under plans unveiled by Worthing Borough Council.

Artists, musicians, innovators and designers are among those to have blossomed after Colonnade House opened to the public in October 2016.

In order to build on the success, the Council has developed six-figure plans to expand the complex to also accommodate digital businesses.

The proposal would see the purchase and refurbishment of two neighbouring buildings in High Street, with works potentially starting next year.

The three-storey building would be connected to top-of-the-range gigabit broadband infrastructure before the flexible office space is rented out to burgeoning businesses in both the digital and creative sectors, which council leaders believe will generate jobs and growth in priority industries for the town.

Martin Randall, Adur & Worthing Councils’ Director for the Economy, said: “Since we opened Colonnade House, the benefits to our creative and artistic sector has been immeasurable.

“We want to build on that success and expand our offer to nurture some of the amazing creative and digital talent in our town. By blending digital and creative spaces in a single project we hope to be able give these growing sectors a base from which to expand and prosper.

“As well as creating jobs for the future, our plan also has the added benefit of refurbishing two town centre buildings which have historic and architectural interest.”

Worthing Borough Council secured funds in 2015 to create low-cost affordable creative art studio and gallery space in the then vacant Colonnade House.

It opened a year later and, run in partnership with the Adur and Worthing Trust, has been hugely successful with good levels of occupancy and a range of bespoke projects and events.

Despite the success, a paper presented at a meeting of Adur & Worthing Councils’ Joint Strategic Committee next week suggests that additional income streams will be needed to sustain Colonnade House into the future.

Councillors will be asked to support an £800,000 partnership bid to the European Regional Development Fund which would pay for the full refurbishment. A decision on the funding bid would be made next year with work potentially starting soon after.

The digital and creative hub would meet one of the aims of the Adur & Worthing Economic Strategy which was adopted last year which included the aspiration of creating Superconnected Worthing.

Karen Simporis, Chair of Adur & Worthing Trust, a local charity that supports arts and culture and has the lease on the building, said: “Many of the successful creative businesses based  at Colonnade House already use digital technology extensively so the improved connectivity this exciting plan offers will help them and new tenants go much further.

“By sensitively refurbishing the two adjacent buildings the hub will aim to nurture creativity in its widest sense and build a sound economic base for our forward thinking town.”

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