I refer to the proposed 15-storey high tower to be built as part of the derelict Aquarena site development.
On the eve of President Trump’s inauguration ceremony in America, in Worthing’s Assembly Hall on January 19, a full house was stunned when all our democratically voted councillors on the planning committee, except Hazel Thorpe (Lib Dem), overruled the will of the people and passed the redevelopment on the basis that the estimated £15million economic benefits to the town outweighed any harm to nearby historical sites.
It was explained that councillors, when making their decision, have a duty to balance the needs of the borough against personal views. There were over 3,000 signatures and letters opposing the scheme and 222 in support.
During the meeting there was opportunity for the public to speak for or against the scheme. It was stated, in support of the Roffey-built tower, that it would provide an eastern gateway to Worthing in line with the council’s strategy to regenerate the area and indicate we were not stagnating but moving forward and open for business. Almost as an apology for accepting the tower and density of the new build, a councillor reminded the audience that in order to meet the government’s target of 9,000 new homes and social housing need in the borough, Worthing would have to build upwards because land space is restricted by the South Downs and the shoreline.
I question if the same principle will apply when precious land in Ferring and Goring becomes the target for redevelopment? What ‘Gateway’ will be built to overshadow the residents’ and visitors’ favourite sitting and walking spots?
I wonder what East Worthing seafront has done to become the guinea pig for an architect’s experimental delight? Imagine my disbelief when despite thousands of residents’ objections, their hours of campaigning and banner waving, Roffey’s application still proposes a 15-storey tower right on the seafront. “A more sensitive site in Worthing would be hard to find,” said one of our five eloquent speakers, who each raised so many relevant points against the development, certainly enough to at least get the tower taken out of the plan or repositioned so as not to spoil everyone’s enjoyment of our coastal town’s most prized assets – the beach, sea views, sunsets and promenade walks. This is what brings business to a coastal town
The old Aquarena site had such potential, residents hopes and aspirations for the area after the new Splash Point pool was built were the promised replacement of the much loved outdoor pool and possibly a new boating pond, further enhancement of indoor/outdoor leisure facilities, such as ice/roller skating, and possibly two to five-storey dwellings within the building line of Brighton Road. I understand now that an extra swimming/training pool would also be beneficial to cut waiting times for lessons. At least the seagulls will welcome the proposed new seafront café so near their favourite haunt.
Please, Roffey, compromise and scrap the tower idea for this site. I, like many residents, retired to Worthing to get away from the tall, claustrophobic high rise buildings of the city and suburbs yet remain near enough to commute to the City or Sussex/Surrey countryside.
If built in the right place, the Tower may be worth £15million to the economy of Worthing, but on our seafront it will destroy more than any money can replace.
With the government pressure to build more homes, protecting open space, character and style of an area will be difficult, but if nowhere else, as a coastal town our seafront must remain sacred.
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