Approval for regeneration of Worthing town centre site
Ambitious plans to regenerate Worthing’s town centre have been given a major boost with the approval of proposals to create nearly 170 homes, commercial space, hotel and expanded cinema on a brownfield site.
As part of its ambitious town centre regeneration programme, Worthing Borough Council has been working with with LCR, the government’s placemaking and sustainable regeneration specialist, on bringing Union Place back into use.
The 1.1 hectare site, which includes the former police station, has sat largely unused for more than a decade after private companies failed to bring forward viable schemes.
After stepping into purchase the site last year, the Council last night received outline permission from the town’s Planning Committee to transform the area.
Also included in the proposal is replacement public car parking, high-quality public spaces and a new play area.
Leaders welcomed the decision, noting the development supports the overall town centre renewal programme and, when complete, would make a significant contribution to long-term economic sustainability of Worthing post-COVID.
Councillor Kevin Jenkins, the Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “I’m delighted that this proposal in principle has received the backing of the planning committee and want to thank the team from LCR and our own officers for bringing an ambitious and deliverable scheme forward.
“Union Place is an important town centre site that has been left undeveloped for a number of years, which has had a negative impact both visually and economically on the vitality of our local economy.
“Bringing it back into use is a key part of our ambitious town centre renewal programme, which has become even more important due to COVID.
“The proposal creates a range of much-needed housing; supports tourism, through a new hotel; will create a more vibrant cultural scene, with the proposed addition of new cinema screens; and offers flexible commercial space and connectivity to the wider town centre which will support the local economy for years to come.”
Ray Willis, Regional Director for LCR in the South, said:“We’re pleased to be supporting the Council’s ambition in bringing this key site back into productive use. It has been made possible by leveraging the Council’s unrivalled knowledge of the needs of its community, coupled with our experience in developing complex sites. The project is set to deliver vital new homes, jobs and public value for Worthing.
“Regenerating underused and underdeveloped land in our town and city centres has always been key to maintaining thriving communities, but it’s now more important than ever as Britain looks to navigate an economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19. This is a key example of the kind of project that local authorities should champion in order to generate strong growth across our regional hubs.”
Frustrated with the lack of progress on regenerating the prime town centre site, the Council acquired the site last year before entering into a landpool agreement with LCR.
An outline planning application to create 169 new homes, 670 sqm of flexible commercial space and 90 bed hotel on the land between High Street and Chapel Road was approved by the Council’s Planning Committee at a virtual meeting last night (November 4, 2020).
Also included will be a cinema extension of up to four extra screens and flexible cultural space to support the neighbouring Connaught Theatre.
The development will be laid out in a series of even blocks of between four to six storeys with a 14 storey tower at its heart.
Plans include 245 car parking spaces, which will include public spaces to replace the current NCP car park. A fifth of the residential spaces will be EV charging points while 184 cycle spaces will be created.
Councillors also praised the new public realm enhancements, which will include a new play space.
The redevelopment of Union Place is one part of the Councils’ ambitious direction of travel Platforms for Our Places: Going Further.
This scheme also supports the Council’s ‘And Then...’ ambitions to create a vibrant mix of high-quality housing, cultural and commercial premises in the town centre post-COVID.