Spelling out new life for an historical site...

W39531H13''Sparks Yard 2. Sparks yard buildings coming down
W39531H13''Sparks Yard 2. Sparks yard buildings coming down

AFTER years of conservation concerns and planning wrangles, work has started on redeveloping one of the oldest features in central Worthing.

Demolition has started on the Spells Yard complex, situated at the corner of Portland Road and Grafton Place.

This high-walled reminder of early Victorian commerce was a small-business centre which, until few years ago, housed Spells greengrocers’ distribution warehouse, along with a few other commercial concerns.

In its place will be 10 residential apartments and one commercial unit – with the business element smaller than envisaged in the original redevelopment plans, which incorporated only eight apartments.

But the disappearance of Spells Yard is disappointing for local historian Chris Hare.

“I think it is always sad to see part of the town’s heritage disappear, especially as that building represented light industrial use in the first part of the 19th century,” he said. I know we can’t save everything, but the trouble in Worthing is that so much has been lost.

“It is nice to preserve what is still there, if it is possible,” Mr Hare added.

One of the planning approval conditions for the Spells Yard redevelopment is that no. 89 Portland Road be converted into a dwelling house. This cottage type-property typifies the architectural charm of the Portland/Grafton-roads area in central Worthing.

The flint-knapped walls are a particularly attractive feature in this characterful architectural enclave.

Spells Yard was marketed by Michael Jones’ Chapel Road office, which reported many expressions of interest.

Flint facings will also be a conservation feature when the Grade-2 listed former Reps Health Studio in Grafton Place is redeveloped for new homes by Kitmarr Ltd, the same company which is undertaking the Spells Yard project.

The borough council has recently given permission to Brighton-based Kitmarr for the part-demolition, repair and residential conversion of the Reps property to form four studio flats, two two-bedroom maisonettes and one two-bedroom flat.

Permission was also given to build three, two-storey, two-bedroom houses and two, two-bedroom flats within the curtilage of the listed building.

Flint walls are also a feature of the magnificent Christ Church, a short distance north of both developments.

Christ Church, built through public subscription, was consecrated in 1843.

It was the first parish church in the town centre, and the only one with a surrounding graveyard.