FIVE beach chalets will be converted into artist studios.
After months of uncertainty over the future of the buildings at Beach Parade, members of Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee last week voted that under the Worthing Masterplan and Seafront Strategy of an ‘Active Beach Zone’, arts and crafts galleries and studios would draw visitors along the seafront and be a positive addition to the town.
The application, submitted by Stefan Sykes, owner of nearby Coast Café, has brought strong objections from the chalet renters, who worked throughout the summer to obtain more than 2,600 signatures on a petition.
Cllr David Chapman also spoke against the plans at the meeting, citing the dangers of encouraging more people to the area due to the existing arrangement between cyclists and pedestrians along the cycle path.
He said: “I have observed pedestrians walking straight out in front of cyclists right in front of the café there, and the fact that there have been no reported accidents does not diminish the fact that there is a danger.
“There is increased footfall in busy areas, especially with children, and the police have admitted that it would be impossible for them to police this area.”
Karen Symporis, chairwoman of Worthing Arts Council, spoke in favour of the plans.
She said: “I have been living in Worthing and running a business since 1997 and when my family and friends come down to visit they used to say, ‘lovely sea front, but what do we do?
“That has massively changed now and the demographic has also changed. There are young families coming into the area and bringing their business and we need to think about creating opportunities for them.
“We need to think about not only providing jobs, but also changing the image of Worthing.
“As far as the pedestrian users and cyclists are concerned, Brighton and Hove have mixed use and they seem to manage it there.”
Cllr Val Turner said: “I support this completely and I feel that this is reaching out to community use.
“As beach chalets, they are only used by a very limited number of people, they are certainly not used by the vast majority and taking all the railings away will open up the area.
“Three of the chalets are proposed to be used for educational purposes and this, I think, is a really good idea.”
Four councillors voted in favour of the application, two objected and one abstained.