Worthing leaders have pledged to take public feedback into consideration as they drive forward proposals to revamp a key town centre site.
Frustrated with the lack of movement at Union Place, Worthing Borough Council made the bold move to acquire the site for £3.5 million last month.
Since then, work has begun to safely secure the area with new hoardings now in place.
Keen to push on with an ambitious agenda of creating jobs and homes, the council is continuing to work hard on bringing forward major long-term plans within the next 12 months.
With more than 20,000 people reading articles about the council buying the site and nearly 100 providing comments on what any redevelopment should include, local authority leaders have pledged to listen to the public when bringing forward major plans.
Councillor Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “From the wonderful to the slightly wacky, the public feedback we have had has been incredible – it clearly shows how much local residents feel invested in seeing the redevelopment of this key town centre site.
“Now we own the site, we are in control of our own destiny. But it’s still crucial that we weigh up all options before pursuing our next move.
“I look forward to working with the public as we push forward with our ambitious plans which I believe will begin a new chapter of prosperity for our town.”
Union Place is adjacent to the High Street, opposite Waitrose and next to the council-owned Connaught Theatre and leased car park.
It was the home of the town’s police station but, when that was closed and demolished in 2009, the 1.4 hectare site became vacant and derelict.
Worthing Borough Council bought the site from the private owner last month. By combining it with the car park which sits on land the local authority already owns, the next step is to work with other partners to bring forward deliverable proposals for the whole site.
Already the council has received dozens of comments through social media channels on what should be done with the land.
Scott Gair said: “Let’s take this fantastic opportunity to do something different with our wonderful town. Lets add a new reason for locals and visitors to get out and enjoy our place…Something unique that distinguishes us from our neighbours would be a good start. Off the top of my head – indoor ski slope…rock climbing wall, you could do a huge indoor adventure playground…top notch spa perhaps? The choices are endless and exciting.”
Jo Edwards said: “Please let’s have a full size ice rink – capable of ice hockey and ice dance. There is nothing like that anywhere near here and would bring people from Chichester, Horsham and Brighton in, as well as providing new sporting and social facilities.”
Mark Dibley said: “I think the council should consolidate the existing retail and concentrate on making Worthing a family holiday destination.”
Victoria Harvey said: “An aquarium, treetop adventure park, ice rink, tiny town, indoor skate park, bowling alley, laser tag, youth/urban art space, youth centre. Not a multiplex but potentially a proper IMAX.”
Alan Spencer said: “We need quality in our town…John Lewis or House of Fraser.”
In response, Councillor Jenkins said: “I will repeat what I said when we bought the site: all options remain open to us at this stage. We will listen to everyone’s views and suggestions, but recognise we will never please everybody. But the main thing is that we ensure the best possible result for the people of Worthing.”