Improvement work to breathe new life into major town centre street will begin in the Spring
A significant new regeneration scheme which will transform Worthing’s Portland Road into a vibrant and inclusive space will begin next month.
The newly-finalised plans highlight key features which will make the street an exciting destination where pedestrians are the priority.
Worthing Borough Council is managing the scheme, which is funded by West Sussex County Council and the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, with contractors hoping to complete the £925,000 construction contract by the end of the year.
Free ultrafast public WiFi, better lighting, comfortable seating areas, cycle racks and landscape planting will all form part of the proposals, which are designed to encourage people into the town centre and support local businesses.
This is the first scheme to be delivered as part of the Growth Deal, a joint-project with the county council which sets out plans to rejuvenate eight public realm spaces from the train station to the seafront in Worthing, over the next five to ten years.
Cllr Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “I’m so pleased the council is able to announce that work will commence for the Portland Road scheme. It will see the street transformed into a vibrant and inclusive space with a lovely, clean design that allows easy use for all.
“Despite the many struggles the Covid-19 pandemic has presented, it has not slowed down the council’s plans to breathe new life into this area of Worthing. We have looked very carefully at all aspects of the new public realm to ensure the space is suitable for people to enjoy from day to night - from when the cafes open until the bars close in the early hours of the morning - once Government restrictions are lifted.”
Local contractor Landbuild Ltd has been appointed to bring the project to life, with work starting in March. Work will be finished in Spring 2022 but the firm is hopeful of early completion by the end of this year.
The main focus of the Portland Road venture is to create safe and well-lit spaces for people to enjoy and connect the street to other town centre areas - as well as to bring in digital infrastructure with the new Citizen Wifi network, using ultrafast internet access.
The space between Montague Street and Chandos Road will be pedestrianised with street furniture, including plenty of seating. High-quality lighting, trees and landscape planting will also be installed.
There will be enough space for people to practise social distancing in the short term as well as a clear way for those who are visually impaired or have mobility issues to move around.
The scheme has been designed by WSP and Project Centre and will be delivered in phases, to allow access to the businesses on the street, and so pedestrians can move around safely during the construction phase.
The designs were created after comments received during public consultation and from detailed discussions with local businesses and stakeholders.
Cllr Bob Lanzer, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, said: “The start of construction work on this multi-million-pound project will herald an exciting time for Worthing town centre and represents a significant investment in its future.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the innovative designs becoming a reality, creating an improved and more attractive environment for residents, shoppers, businesses and visitors.”
Andy Sparsis, owner of the Proto Restaurant Group which includes The Fat Greek Taverna on Portland Road, said: “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have hit Portland Road businesses really hard and now more than ever we need to improve the space.
"If you implement a great scheme which shows the councils are prepared to invest in the town, it gives so much confidence to other people and businesses, and it will make them want to invest in the area.
“We need to change the way people perceive Worthing, and one of the best ways to do that is to create beautiful, attractive spaces that families, workers, residents and young people can all use for many different reasons.
“By pedestrianising the road people can pop by and grab a takeaway, sit down with their friends, read a book, use the WiFi or enjoy a coffee outside. We need to develop that culture which is ultimately going to draw people to the area.”