Worthing Borough Council today announces a bold multi-million pound move to buy a key town centre development site as its efforts to kick start economic regeneration move up a gear.
Frustrated with the lack of movement at Union Place, the local authority has acquired the site and wants to bring forward major plans within the next 12 months. The bid follows hot on the heels of the Council’s decision to demolish the Teville Gate multi-storey car park to create impetus for the private development of the rest of that site.
For years, the prominent Union Place site has sat dormant as viable schemes to revamp the area failed to materialise. The site was the home of the town’s police station for Worthing but was closed and demolished in 2009. Now keen to push on with an ambitious agenda of creating jobs and homes, Worthing Borough Council has bought the site from the private owner. By combining it with the car park which sits on land the local authority already owns, council leaders say the move allows it to inject fresh impetus to the stalled redevelopment project.
The next step is to work with other partners to bring forward deliverable proposals for the whole site. Councillor Dan Humphreys, Leader of Worthing Borough Council, said: “For too long residents and businesses in Worthing have waited for firm proposals to come forward for Union Place. But in order to provide local people with jobs and homes we need to get moving on this.
“The key thing about today’s announcement is that we are now back in control. I look forward to being able to move forward quickly but responsibly in finding a partner to bring this long-awaited project forward.”
Union Place is adjacent to the High Street, opposite Waitrose and next to the council-owned Connaught Theatre and leased car park. In 2016 the Council attempted to bring the development of the site forward by proposing a partnership with the owners of the site, Change Real Estate Ltd.
Among the ideas for the 1.4-acre area was a multiplex cinema, about 150 residential apartments and up to seven restaurants in a mixed use scheme. But, with no firm plans being brought forward, the council has used £3.5m of money secured through the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership to buy the plot from Change.
The council will now pool together all of the land it owns in the street to develop a viable redevelopment scheme which will provide jobs, homes and recreational space for those living in the town. Leaders say they are willing to consider all potential options for the site to ensure that a project was delivered which was beneficial to everyone.
Councillor Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “With progress on Teville and the former Aquarena as well as ambitious plans to transform the town centre, work on Building Worthing is progressing at great pace. This will then bring yet more investment into the town, which is good news for residents, businesses and visitors.”