Worthing town centre’s Montague Quarter has entered a new phase in its development process.
This week, developers NewRiver Retail announced the appointment of estate agents Michael Jones and Company as its leasing agent and said the plan was to find ‘additional leisure uses’ to complement the original vision for a restaurant hub.
A Worthing favourite, Aunty Bunny’s Hut, has also announced its intention to move its outdoor food stall into a permanent restaurant.
With so much going on, now seems like a good time to look back at the key events at the Montague Quarter since the vision was first outlined two years ago.
June, 2016 – Planning permission secured
On June 29, 2016, councillors unanimously approved £15 million plans to turn the then-named Montague Centre into a ‘restaurant destination’.
The plans included a new glass kiosk specially designed for café chain Patisserie Valerie, as well as a vision to replace several retail units with restaurants.
The construction of the kiosk would involve felling three sycamore trees in the town centre. A petition opposing the move attracted more than 3,000 signatures.
See the full story here: Councillors determine Montague Centre restaurant hub plans
May, 2017 – Nando’s confirms it is coming to Worthing...and then changes its mind in January, 2018
In May last year, chicken giant Nando’s confirmed it would be opening a restaurant by the end of the year.
Fast forward eight months and the chain had reversed its position, saying there were ‘no immediate plans’ to open a restaurant.
Nando’s gave no reason for its decision at the time, but town centre manager Sharon Clarke said ‘the hospitality sector is having a bit of a struggle’, with restaurant chains dialing back expansion plans
See the full story here: Latest on Nando’s coming to Worthing
July, 2017 – The Montague Centre is dead, long live the Montague Quarter
To reflect the new direction for the centre, NewRiver Retail rebranded it as the Montague Quarter.
A new logo was launched, featuring the recognisable half-moon glass façade found in the centre’s roof. NewRiver said the new-look shopping precinct will have a ‘colour palette of aubergine and antique bronze’.
A poll conducted by the Herald at the time found that 57 per cent of readers supported the name change.
See the full story here: POLL: Say goodbye to the Montague Centre as it gets renamed
August, 2017 – Patisserie Valerie becomes the first to sign on the dotted line
Pastry giants Patisserie Valerie became the first letting to sign up to a place in the Montague Quarter in August last year, signing a 15-year lease.
In keeping with the planning application, the café was to move into a 1,580sq ft kiosk. Work was due to begin this summer, but there are no signs of progress as we enter autumn.
This month, national media reported Patisserie Valerie’s shares had been frozen after irregularities were discovered in its accounting.
However, NewRiver confirmed an ‘agreement to exchange’ remained in place.
See the full story here: Patisserie Valerie signs 15-year deal to open in Worthing
September, 2017 – NewRiver Retail responds to tree campaigners
Protesters were seen around the three sycamore trees in Montague Street, with placards such as ‘#treesnotcake’.
The Worthing Society also presented alternative plans for the kiosk, which would allow it to be built around the trees, rather than having to remove them.
NewRiver did not back down and released a statement discussing the short life span of the sycamores and its plans for replanting around Worthing.
See the full story here: Campaign to save trees as Patisserie Valerie signs deal
October, 2018 – A new leasing agent and Aunty Bunny’s Hut moves in
After a period of sustained silence, NewRiver confirmed plans for the Montague Quarter were ongoing.
The developer reassured residents that Patisserie Valerie was still committed to opening a café in the centre.
A new leasing agent, Worthing-based Michael Jones and Company, was also appointed, which town centre manager Sharon Clarke said was important for attracting investment locally and beyond.
To top off an eventful month for the development, Caribbean food stall Aunty Bunny’s Hut confirmed it was moving into a restaurant from its outdoor location in the centre.