PLANS for a new gym and a tenant for a unit vacant since 2006 highlight a change in fortune for the Guildbourne Centre, its managers say.
The often-maligned shopping centre, in Worthing, has suffered from a negative reputation in recent years, as empty units have failed to attract tenants.
But the centre’s management hope things are starting to look up, as plans for a new gym have been submitted to Worthing Borough Council, and work is underway for a new dental practice.
Managing agent Richard Baker said: “We are working hard to try and promote the centre and get more life into it.
“With the planned modern dentist surgery, and planning application for a gym, there will be a lot of good news from the centre in the coming months.”
Mr Baker said the former office space, which has been vacant since 2006, had been difficult to let, because of a negative attitude surrounding the centre.
He said: “It’s been difficult as the Guildbourne has a difficult relationship with the town, and a lot of people seem to have a negative attitude about it.
“Since Somerfield closed in 2011, we lost considerable footfall, and we have seen a lot of smaller retailers come and go.”
The letting of both spaces is being handled by commercial property agents Michael Jones.
Steve Berrett, from the firm, said: “It’s a large office space, of about 7,000 square feet, and you don’t get many enquiries about that sort of space.
“We felt the best option was a change of use, which is what has happened, and we’re really pleased.”
Town centre manager Sharon Clarke believes the centre was doing ‘exactly the right thing’ in trying to encourage footfall.
She said: “In this day and age, you need to have space that has got people going into it, as it helps to boost footfall and traffic for all the shops.
“In the long term, I would like to see a multi-purpose, huge, retail centre, but these things need a developer.
“In the short term, the management are doing exactly the right thing”