A ‘COME and get it’ plea to investors has been made by Worthing Borough Council as it seeks to unlock development of key town centre sites.
Consultants have prepared the town’s first ‘Investment Prospectus’, a document highlighting the council’s vision for the town to attract potential developers.
Indicative ideas for sites including the Grafton car park and the Stagecoach depot, in Marine Parade, could deliver 1,000 homes, 3,000 jobs and thousands of square metres of retail and leisure space.
Leader Dan Humphreys said: “I am heartened to hear how we as a council are getting stuck in, now.
“We’re not just going to put this out there and sit back, we do recognise our responsibilities, particularly around public realm.
“This is the big thing that I want to see happen so we get those cranes up and this is a brilliant step on that journey.”
The council will take the document, approved by cabinet members on Tuesday, to The Shard next week for the annual ‘Sitematch’ event.
The event provides a chance to meet would-be developers from across the country.
Officers have already invited a number of investors for tours of the town and will host its own launch event for the prospectus.
Director for the economy Martin Randall acknowledged the document alone would not regenerate Worthing but said it was a crucial tool.
In an exclusive interview with the Herald, he said: “We all acknowledge that the believability factor is when can get something on the ground. We are pushing that on all levels.
“It is not a scatter gun approach. It is a co-ordinated approach that says we are open for business and the results will be investment.”
The document was prepared using funds from West Sussex County Council, which has made ‘significant’ contributions to hiring three major project managers.
Consultants Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners, agents Cluttons and Allies and Morrison – architects also working on the new Aquarena designs – drew up the prospectus.
It includes artist’s impressions for the key sites, indicating the council’s vision as a guideline for potential investment.
The ideas show the redevelopment of the Grafton into retail, leisure and housing, providing 200 homes and 12,000 square metres of business space.
The Stagecoach site could host pop-up shops and food stalls in the short-term, with further housing and leisure opportunities in the long run.
Cabinet member for regeneration Bryan Turner said: “This is the first time we have had something like this.
“Funds across the investment world seem to be waking up now and are actively looking for sites.
“One of the things we have learnt from this in talking to consultants is that Worthing really has got the potential, a lot more potential than a lot of other towns that they go and visit.”
Liberal Democrat leader Keith Sunderland said the news was ‘exciting’ but warned the council’s vision for a cinema at Union Place – as detailed in the prospectus – could hit nearby Connaught Theatre and Dome cinema.
“At long last we are marketing Worthing properly,” he said.
“However we need to be aware that a new cinema next to the Connaught is going to cause a big drop in revenue for the Connauaght and the Dome. This may be a price worth paying but it does need to be considered as so much of the theatre’s revenue is from film showings.”
The document will be publicly available, with a more in-depth version provided upon request.