DCSIMG

From the business desk: dreams of big projects can come true – why not here?

DURING a recent visit to my home town, I noticed a multi-million pound leisure project quickly coming together at the bottom of my road.

The ambitious project on a former eyesore featured a cinema, Nando’s and several sought-after restaurants.

Sadly, the town was Swindon and not Worthing.

The scheme bore remarkable resemblance to the £150 million Teville Gate development but crucially, it was not a flight of fantasy.

This month, the much-delayed project’s developers, Hanson, stressed its determination to see the scheme through to completion.

Its spokesman said a fuller statement on the latest delays, regarding stalled section 106 payments and other setbacks, would be given next month.

But I think it’s fair to say we’ve heard it all before.

Attempting to contact Hanson for a statement on delay rumours was a little like finding a needle in a haystack and eventually led me to a small administration office in Leicestershire.

Having asked an open question about when Worthing residents could expect the key development to begin, I was only given a response in very vague terms.

The last we heard was that 2014 was the magic year - a statement out of date by well over a year. No further updates had been forthcoming.

Worthing is growing tired of a lack of action and relative silence from Hanson.

It is time for answers. And action.

If it does not look like Hanson can provide the assurances being sought by Worthing Borough Council regarding the section 106 payments, it is time for the council to be more proactive in sorting this mess out.

I have my sympathies with the council, though, as it is effectively at Hanson’s mercy.

The council does not own the land and a Compulsory Purchase Order would cost millions, without considering lengthy legal battles. And after all that, there is still no alternative proposed and no interested developer.

But perhaps the council should be actively seeking potential suitors. Let’s send out a clear message to Hanson to ‘use it or lose it’. That we will not, as a town, let Worthing’s gateway rot for years to come.

Of course, this action could all be in vain, for Hanson could be moments from putting spades in the ground.

I think if that were the case, they would be shouting from the top of Teville Gate’s ghastly car park.

 

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