Plans for nearly 200 homes, commercial space and two extra cinema screens for the Connaught Theatre have been revealed as the preferred option to transform Worthing’s Union Place.
Frustrated with the lack of progress on regenerating the prime town centre site, Worthing Borough Council acquired the site earlier this year before entering into a landpool agreement with the government-owned development firm London & Continental Railways (LCR).
A range of options to develop the 2.6 acre site have now been worked up and these will be presented to councillors at a meeting next week (Tuesday November 6).
The preferred plan is to create 194 homes, commercial space and two modern cinema screens which will be joined to the popular Connaught Theatre.
Other options include a purely residential scheme of more than 200 units or a mixed-use scheme of homes and offices. All three would include more than 100 car parking spaces.
Councillor Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “After years of stalled schemes, finally we are seeing progress on the plans to regenerate this prime site which has the potential to support the town centre for many years to come.
“We have already shown that, as a Council, we are not going to stand by any longer and watch Union Place remain derelict and unused, which is why I am pleased to see us progress to this next stage in just a few months.
“If councillors are happy to proceed then I look forward to working with LCR on creating detailed proposals which I’m certain will lead to a development that the people of Worthing can be proud of.”
The report presented to Adur & Worthing Councils’ Joint Strategic Committee next week will be asked to note the progress on work to bring forward the redevelopment of Union Place. It will also give leading council officers backing to start negotiating contracts and leases in relation to the site.
The papers note that Worthing Borough Council stepped in to buy the former Police Station site from private owners in January to bring impetus to the regeneration of the land.
A decision to enter into an agreement with LCR was agreed by senior councillors in April. The deal saw the current small open-air car park in High Street sold to LCR and allow the company to enter a ‘land-pooling agreement’ with the Council.
Through that agreement LCR will pay for works in drawing up proposals and securing planning permission, while the Council retains majority ownership of the site.
Since then, a joint Strategic Board established between the Council and LCR to oversee the project has examined six options for bringing development forward on the site.
The report presented to councillors looks to narrow this down, with the recommendation that more detailed work is carried out to ensure a viable scheme is created and delivered.
Officers also suggest that given the high-profile nature and prime location of the site, a flexible approach to development is adopted. This would ensure construction in phases, with the suggested first stage being the creation of residential units on the north east corner of the site.
The report also underlines four key aims in bringing forward the redevelopment: it is done with pace; what is provided has a beneficial regenerative impact on the wider town centre; control is retained and financial returns are optimised.
To read the report in full visit this link.