Release date: 24 May 2018
A bold new plan to transform the look and feel of Worthing town centre is taking a big step forward with the publication of proposals to revamp two main streets.
Up to £5 million has been allocated to redesign South Street and Portland Road to kickstart the Public Realm project, led and initially funded by West Sussex County Council, which will revitalise public spaces from the station to the seafront.
More open continental-style boulevard walkways, pedestrianisation, tree plantings, new contrasting paving designs, courtyards and a new piazza are planned to soften the streetscape of the town.
The county council, working in partnership with Worthing Borough Council, has now decided that the most adventurous options for South Street and Portland Road from last year’s options appraisal will be pursued and developed further. Detailed design work will now get underway over the summer and the options will evolve and develop through to an anticipated public consultation in the Autumn.
In these first versions at the northern end of South Street the clocktower outside the Guildbourne Centre will be moved to the centre of the junction and raised as part of a new piazza adorned with permanent fabric shades. Along South Street itself buses will be diverted and pedestrians given priority. Tree planting and benches will flow down to the seafront where a wider ‘shared-surface’ junction is to be created linking the street to the pier and a space for outdoor performances created.
On Portland Road the carriageway width will be reduced south of Shelley Road and a tree-lined avenue cultivated with two shared-surface courtyard squares created. Moving further towards Montague Street more tree-lined shared space would be created which again prioritises pedestrians. Provision for on street parking and emergency access will be considered as the designs progress.
Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “We believe these are bold, exciting and innovative ideas, which would bring better connectivity and a host of enhancements to Worthing town centre’s street scene.
“The ideas are likely to evolve as we now move into the detailed design stage for the public spaces in Portland Road, South Street South and South Street North.
“This multi-million-pound makeover is part of the Growth Deal which will see the county council and Worthing Borough Council working in partnership to make regeneration in the area a reality.”
Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Cllr Kevin Jenkins, said: “I’m really pleased to see these first two schemes come forward so that the public can see we are determined to revitalise some of the main thoroughfares in the town.
“We want visitors and residents alike to have a pleasant experience walking from the top of our town to the seafront. I believe these schemes open up the place so people can more appreciate what fine buildings, first class retail and leisure opportunities and beautiful vistas we have.
“I am delighted to be working with the county council on something that will make a tremendous difference to the feel of the place.”
The plans form part of a Growth Deal agreed by West Sussex County Council and Worthing Borough Council last year.
The deal sets out a joint pledge to work in partnership on a number of key projects to deliver regeneration and growth in the area during the next five years.
Public realm in Worthing town centre is one of those projects, with the improvements helping connect and enhance six key redevelopment sites in the town - Teville Gate, Union Place, Grafton, Stagecoach, Aquarena, and the Civic Site. Other streets included in the Public Realm project are Montague Street and Marine Parade, Teville Gateway, Chapel Road, Chapel Road South , and the Town Hall.
Altogether the Public Realm schemes will cost £12 million and the two Councils have agreed to work together to identify funds from would-be developers to fund the rest of the works. In the meantime the £5 million cost of the first two schemes will be funded by the county council.
All of the Public Realm development sites had three options for development ranging from modest to the dramatic. The Councils have proposed that South Street and Portland Road should have the ‘gold’ standard option. This will now go out to public consultation shortly.
The work also feeds in to Worthing Borough Council’s Seafront Investment Plan, which was launched last year and envisages promenade improvements which will link to the public realm work. The investment plan also includes proposals to create a natural lagoon for water sports, the creation of new restaurants in seafront shelters at West Buildings and Steyne Gardens and an overall improvement to the seafront offer.