FEARS are growing over the fate of an iconic building in Bedford Row, Worthing.
The 1850 Gospel Hall has been unused for several years, and its fast-deteriorating condition has raised concerns that it will become an eyesore in the surrounding conservation area.
James Appleton, the borough council’s executive head of planning, regeneration and well-being, told the Herald: “The building is not listed, but its current condition is a concern and we are keen to find a viable use for the building that can retain its intrinsic character.”
Mr Appleton said the council could serve an “untidy site notice” on land and buildings where the condition seriously affected the amenity of an area, and the council was reviewing whether such formal action needed to be taken in the case of the Gospel Hall, or whether negotiations with the owner could secure improvements.
Robert Elleray, president of conservation group The Worthing Society, said: “It is another of those Worthing buildings with character, and every effort should be made to restore it and keep it in good condition.”
The mid-19th century Gospel Hall has had a varied history, including uses as a Baptist chapel, evangelical church, and various secular purposes.
In 2010, Worthing council rejected a planning application to increase the roof height, install a replacement slate roof, and convert the loft space to provide a self-contained flat.
The ground floor would have been retained for category D1, non-residential use.