LETTER: Plans not just '˜pretty pictures'
I have read your latest report on Worthing Borough Council's proposed seafront development strategy including the provision of a seawater lagoon.
The comments attributed to Councillor Jenkins are dismissive and offensive to the organisations behind Project Worthing team in 2009/2010.
Councillor Jenkins was elected to represent residents in 2014 and, to my knowledge, was not involved in assessing the merits of Project Worthing in 2009/2010. Accordingly, I have to assume he has been inappropriately briefed by colleagues from that period of time.
Project Worthing was much more than ‘pretty pictures’, as stated by Councillor Jenkins, as substantive architectural drawings existed and were presented to Worthing Borough Council, with supporting documentation, in 2009.
I wish to remind him and your readers that Project Worthing had the support of organisations who, at that time (2009/2010), were committed to delivering the development.
Project Worthing supporting organisations included Ambassador Theatre Group, Developing Community Leisure Management Limited, WSP Engineering, Envision (Marine and Environmental Consultants), Haddon Few Montuschi Limited – Architects for the proposed Worthing Arena.
A critical part of the underpinning philosophy behind Project Worthing was that no community land should be sold,but rather leased, thereby ensuring continuing community ownership of assets held under the stewardship ofWorthing Borough Council.
Documentation provided to Worthing Borough Council in 2009/2010 highlighted that after 25 years the leases held by the Project Worthing development team would be transferred to a mutually agreed community trust.
The legal and financial advisers working with the Project Worthing team, reflecting my personal belief on community ownership and set out in the preceding point, sought a letter from Worthing Borough Council indicating that the successful creation of such a development would be beneficial to the town, residents and visitors.
The purpose of this letter was to ensure that legal and financial matters could be discussed in confidence as planning permission was sought. This letter did not materialise. Had Worthing Borough Council demonstrated this level of interest in March, 2010, I am confident Project Worthing would have progressed as the development timescale was to see Worthing Arena open by December, 2014, with the envisaged sea lagoon completed by the end of 2017.
Residents of Worthing have ideas and opinions on how Worthing should be developed. These are not always heard or listened to. In conclusion, I hope Councillor Jenkins bears this in mind, acknowledges that all development schemes start with ‘pretty pictures’ – e.g., Station Square – and realises that Worthing Borough Council’s renewed call for inward investment is, quite often, assessed against their past actions.