Facelift for Worthing’s Gospel Hall
A much-loved historic building in the heart of Worthing has received a facelift thanks to Worthing Borough Council.
The Gospel Hall has stood in Bedford Row for nearly 170 years and is a landmark building in one of the town’s oldest streets.
But, with the privately-owned building standing derelict for more than a decade, the property’s appearance severely deteriorated with chipped and cracked masonry, graffiti and rubbish dumped in the forecourt.
That was until the Council’s planning enforcement team stepped in and used various powers to encourage the owner to renovate the facade of the Victorian structure.
It forms part of a major push by the Council - in conjunction with the Worthing Society - to spruce up the South Street conservation area and ensure the town’s historic buildings stand tall for years to come.
Councillor Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “We take our role as guardians of the town’s heritage seriously which is why we are working with the Worthing Society to improve the whole of Bedford Row.
“The Gospel Hall is very much at the heart of this historic street. While it has been empty for many years, it remains a much-loved building which residents and visitors appreciate greatly.
“For that reason I want to praise the owner of the Gospel Hall for responding to our request. The transformation really is remarkable and it shows that by working together we can ensure our historic buildings remain preserved for future generations.”
Bedford Row is the focus of a pilot regeneration scheme by the Council’s planning enforcement team.
Built in the early 19th Century, it is one of three significant east-facing bow fronted terraces in the town centre alongside Montague Place and Liverpool Terrace.
But, over the years, the condition of the properties has deteriorated with the exteriors not of the standard with what is expected of a conservation area.
The Gospel Hall dating from 1850 is a prime example of this. Standing at the entrance to the row it is integral to the overall setting of this Grade II Listed Regency terrace.
To encourage the owner to carry out remedial works to improve the building’s appearance, the Council’s planning enforcement team sent a series of notifications to the owner. A Section 215 order which asks freeholders to undertake the work or risk the council carrying it out for them then claiming back the costs was prepared for the building. However, before it was served, the owner took steps to begin the work.
Within days scaffolding appeared, external facades were painted, doors replaced, and weeds and rubble were removed from the forecourt as the building was transformed back to its original grand state.
With other property owners in the street also agreeing to carry out improvements, the terrace is beginning to improve.
Combined with clean-up work led by the Worthing Society and Storm Ministries which cleaned up graffiti and weeds from the communal areas, the South Street Conservation Area is starting to sparkle again.
Susan Belton, chairman of the Worthing Society, said: “We are delighted and encouraged that the owner of The Gospel Hall has begun the renovation of this historic Victorian building which contributes so positively to the character of the area.
“We will also continue to work with the council and others on our campaign to upgrade other aspects of the South Street Conservation Area.”
The work feeds into two of the five areas - Our Social Economies and Leadership of our Places - featured in Platforms for our Places, Adur & Worthing Councils’ direction of travel.