An innovative plan has been put forward to revive the Southern Pavilion of Worthing Pier, as the council seeks a new tenant for the building which has stood empty for more than a year.
Entrepreneur and artist Dan Thompson has teamed up with fellow resident Jonathan Nulty, in expressing an interest to the borough council to sensitively bring the iconic 1930s art deco venue fully back to life as an arts and community facility.
The property went up for lease by the council in September, with bids regarding its future use now being taken. However, the authority is believed to be reviewing the terms under which any future licence is granted in light of the venue’s troubled recent history.
Speaking about the community use bid, Mr Thompson believed the venue could realistically be brought back to its former glory to play host to a mixed-use facility with a café, presenting a range of entertainment including comedy, art and music that would be offering something alternative for the town’s nightlife scene.
He said: “The pavilion is an amazing building that we want to preserve, along with a number of other places including the Gospel Hall.
“It is something we feel is very much worth doing and can be achieved, as has been proved with the Dome. I was involved with the early work on that in getting the lottery funding for its restoration, despite people saying it wouldn’t happen.”
Last summer, Worthing Borough Council granted permission for the former nightclub on the pier to re-open . Bosses of the venue, which had been re-christened Angelik, optimistically placed “opening soon” outside the club.
But police successfully appealed against its return, with district commander Ian Pollard arguing it was “not in the public interest,” in light of previous incidents on the pier.
Despite this, Bryan Turner, the Worthing Borough Councillor responsible for regeneration, agreed a solution to the south pavilion needed to be found quickly. He added it was a significant building in the area’s economy which is presently going to waste.
David Sumner, chairman of the Worthing Society, also felt the building should be revived for an appropriate use at the earliest possible opportunity.
He said: “It’s a terrific place and from a conservation perspective, you can’t just have a place standing empty.
“It always had its problems, even it its early days in the 1930s, but back then, drinking was much more tightly controlled then. I’ve many happy memories from there from the 1950s, when there used to be lots of music there, including my father’s band who played there. For a lot of people it was where they began their romantic life together.
“I would like to see it brought back soon and it could be used for the arts- but it would have to be a viable venture.”