Residents asked to share town vision

Worthing Borough Council cabinet member for regneration Bryan Turner
Worthing Borough Council cabinet member for regneration Bryan Turner

WHERE should new homes be built – and what land should be secured for future generations?

These are among the questions residents will soon be asked as part of a crucial consultation into Worthing’s future.

Worthing Borough Council is preparing a new local plan, a key document which allocates areas of land for development for the next 17 years.

Cabinet member for regeneration Bryan Turner said: “Given the limited amount of available land in the borough and significant environmental constraints, it will be vital that the right balance is struck between new development and the need to protect the character and setting of Worthing, which we value so greatly.

“It is an important time to get involved and tell us what you think.

“No decisions have been made. This is the first stage in shaping our new plan.”

A consultation document will be considered by the planning committee on Wednesday.

It is anticipated that the documents will be approved, with Mr Turner to give them the final sign-off before a consultation is launched.

The date of the consultation is not confirmed but may be after the local elections in May.

Planning committee chairman Kevin Jenkins said: “We know we are under pressure to provide new homes but we also know we have got limited space, so it is how we can make best use of that space, what facilities we need for leisure, business and growth and how best we can secure areas of open space that enable us to enjoy them, while still balancing those needs.”

Each local plan starts with a yearly house building target – known as objectively assessed needs, or OAN.

The OAN is set using various pieces of demographic data, providing a starting point for the plan.

Worthing’s target is 636 homes per annum, though just 257 homes have been delivered annually between 2006 and 2015.

Planners expect the authority to fall significantly short of the target because of a shortage of space, with the sea and the Downs restricting the availability of land.

An evidence-based local plan, identifying areas which are suitable and unsuitable for development, will help the council deliver its vision and, if necessary, highlight why it cannot meet its OAN.

To demonstrate this, the council will have to test all areas of land and indicate their suitability for development.

This includes greenfield sites on the edges of the town, though the authority has stressed this is part of the process it must go through and not an indication of planned developments.

And while no decisions have been made, the council has identified ten key pieces of land that it intends to promote for development.

They include town centre sites like Teville Gate, Union Place and the Grafton car park, as well as the Aquarena and Decoy Farm, in East Worthing.

The HMRC offices, in Barrington Road and Centenary House, in Durrington, are new additions. The consultation will ask residents if they agree with the sites identified and invite ideas for what should be built on them.