BuildingAW goes live: town centres key to COVID recovery
Town centres will be key to building a post-lockdown future - that’s according to leaders of Adur & Worthing Councils who are coordinating the recovery of our local economy.
Everything from a lick of paint on seafront benches, grants to new entrepreneurs and major intervention on prime assets is on the cards as the Councils continue helping communities bounce back from the pandemic.
But central to all of the work will be the area’s urban centres, making them look welcoming in the short term while helping reshape the nature of work, leisure and retail in the months and years to come.
Details of a raft of actions are included in the latest edition of BuildingAW magazine, which includes an interview with Andy Willems, the Councils' Head of Place & Economy, who is helping coordinate the recovery efforts.
Andy said: “There is no doubt our town centres are going through real change. This was happening prior to lockdown, and COVID has accelerated things.
“The town centre, or high street, was originally developed as a social meeting place where people exchanged ideas, met friends and shared experiences. Not dominated by retail and shopping.
“I think we will start to see a shift back to what the town centre was originally intended to be, a social and experiential hub.”
Part of the bounce back policy is encouraging the growth of cultural activities, such as cinema, theatre, exhibitions and outdoor events.
Also key is supporting the growth of housing and office space.
The completion of the brand new HM Revenue and Customs building at Teville Gate, Worthing, is just one example with more than 800 workers due to move in shortly.
Brand new health and community hubs are planned for Pond Road in Shoreham and Worthing Town Hall car park.
At Free Wharf in Shoreham more than 500 homes are under construction and more homes are planned for the former Adur Civic Centre site which is just five minutes walk from the station.
Andy said: “Why are we encouraging the shift? With residential units comes people, with people comes activity, with activity comes economic spend, with economic spend comes new businesses, with new businesses comes a dynamic place.
“We do need to retain ground floor ‘interest’ but we need to bring people back to our town centres to support our town centres.”
BuildingAW is a bright, informal 28-page online publication which keeps residents and businesses across both areas up-to-date with all the latest development in their communities.
Features in the September edition include the latest on plans to create hundreds of new homes on Shoreham riverfront; details on work underway at New Monks Farm in Lancing; and the latest on plans to expand Worthing’s creative hub at Colonnade House.
The online publication also includes regular updates on some of the major projects across Adur and Worthing which are moving forward at speed.
All of this is against the backdrop of the COVID pandemic and a programme called And Then...: Bouncing Back in Post-Pandemic Adur and Worthing, which looks to help the economy get back on its feet.
Cllr Brian Boggis, Adur District Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “There is light at the end of the tunnel. Business confidence is starting to slowly return and it is good to see that work has recommenced on many of the important projects in Adur, like New Monks Farm and Free Wharf.
“It is clearly not going to be an easy task to get things back to the way they were. But you can be sure that we will be doing all we can to support residents and businesses moving forward.”
Cllr Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “Worthing is and remains a safe town to live and visit. Understandably some people are cautious. But the traders have responded with an enormous amount of responsibility with a range of safety measures in place.
“Inward investment is continuing and work on key developments is progressing. As Worthing continues to show those strong signs of adapting and stepping up to the challenges ahead, we as residents have a key part to play in that by going out and ‘shopping and eating local’. Now more than ever we must show it is Time For Worthing.”
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