Grafton car park next on demolition list as council explores development options

Town hall bosses are preparing a government funding bid which could lead to the demolition of Worthing's Grafton car park.

Monday, 18th September 2017, 5:22 pm
Updated Monday, 18th September 2017, 5:42 pm
The Grafton car park, post-paintwork revamp. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

Fresh from announcing plans last week to knock down the Teville Gate car park, Worthing Borough Council’s wrecking ball could next turn to the much-maligned concrete carbuncle.

The Herald understands officers hope to prepare a business case for next round of the Local Growth Fund by Christmas, with options for development presented to the market in the first quarter of 2018.

Councillor Kevin Jenkins, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “It’s positive and the officers know, as with Teville Gate, that the expectation now is that we go very much on the front foot to bring these sites to the market and find developers.

“While there is a huge amount that might not be said there is massive amounts happening behind the scenes.”

Proposals to transform the Grafton - one of the council’s key regeneration sites - could see new retail units created, together with a footway connecting the seafront to Montague Street.

Mr Jenkins said the council was open to ideas but said future development could include larger retail spaces to attract major brands.

He said: “We have lost Next purely because their outlet didn’t provide them with the space they needed. Would we be capable of attracting them or some of the other big players spoken of? We don’t know. That would be the basis but it’s got to be mixed use.”

The council last week confirmed it would seek permission to demolish the Teville Gate multi-storey car park, which it leases from site owners Mosaic.

The project, which could be funded using cash secured through earlier rounds of the Local Growth Fund, would save the authority money on long-term maintenance.

The Grafton, which received a jazzy £14,000 facelift in July, also has a large maintenance bill. More than £700,000 was needed to bring the building up to ‘minimum’ standards, cabinet members were told in April.

Mr Jenkins said the specifics of what the funding bid would seek were yet to be agreed.

He did, however, confirm that any proposals would focus on saving the council money in the longer term, addressing the many complexities of the site and for being a ‘catalyst for change’ rather than giving developers money as an incentive to build.