Worthing’s Denton Gardens concessions up for sale as residents demand it is protected
Worthing residents have urged the borough council to protect Denton Gardens after its concessions were put up for sale.
The Brighton Road garden, long referred to as Worthing’s ‘green lung’ currently houses a mini-golf course and an enclosed green space, separated from the busy centres around.
But locals have voiced their concerns after Worthing Borough Council promoted ‘an exciting opportunity for an adventure golf/leisure activity operator’, without consulting them.
The 0.595 acre site at the south of the gardens, which contains the mini golf, also has existing buildings which the council said could be converted by a new operator, for example into food or drink attractions.
Nikki Sheeran has lived in nearby Warwick Road for 33 years and said the loss of the ‘unique’ space would be a huge loss to the town.
“As a walled off garden it’s unique to Worthing and is a place where people of all ages can go to get some peace,” said Nikki, 58.
“It’s tranquil and calm, even where there’s the mini golf, and it’s a great place for people to sit and read a book and get away from the rat race of the rest of the town.
“Especially during the pandemic, it’s been used a lot. It’s a place where you can just go.”
She also lamented the lack of public consultation by the council.
The sunken gardens were gifted to Worthing in 1922 by Alderman James Denton, a four-time mayor and freeman of the borough.
They were earmarked as the site for the new Splashpoint swimming pool but, following opposition from residents, it was moved slightly east along the seafront.
A spokesman for the council said the site has long been in the Seafront Investment Plan as a place to ‘enhance our leisure offer’.
“This has become even more apparent with Covid and the increased demand for outdoor recreation spaces, which also pull people into the town centre / seafront,” said the spokesman.
“At the moment, we are only seeking expressions of interest to gauge the market. Any developer or operator will be required to obtain relevant permissions, which provides an opportunity for neighbours and other impacted parties to formally respond to plans.
“The current operator has been spoken to and is aware of the situation. They will have this season to operate but we’re starting the process now with the aim of getting a new agreement in place for Spring, 2022.
“In terms of the cafe, we’re expecting this to only be secondary/ancillary rather than the main function. This will be looked at in reference to the proposals but we’re very conscious it needs to compliment what is already in the area.”
A Friends of Denton Gardens Facebook page has been set up in opposition to the plans and a petition urging the council to protect the space has been launched.
A Protect Denton Gardens event will be held at the gardens on Sunday (May 2), from 11am to 4pm, where supporters will state their case for why they should be protected.