A KEY seafront site could be freed up for redevelopment after positive talks between Worthing Borough Council and a bus company.
Stagecoach, based in Marine Parade, could move to Decoy Farm in East Worthing, after a drive from the council to relocate the depot.
The site has long been earmarked for potential development and a report to the Joint Strategic Committee on Tuesday stated an ‘agreement in principle’ had been reached.
Stagecoach South managing director Andrew Dyer said the firm would ‘happily consider’ alternative sites.
“There is no formal agreement,” he said.
“We have had discussions with the borough council to say that the current bus depot is antiquated and doesn’t suit our modern needs although it is very conveniently located.
“What we have said to them is that providing the financial arrangements stack up then we would happily consider alternative sites in Worthing, of which Decoy Farm is one.
The council produced an updated strategy six months ago, entitled Surf’s Up, which outlined a series of short-term priorities.
The Stagecoach site was one of 15 key sites across Adur and Worthing which could create 5,000 jobs and 136,000 square metres of business space if delivered.
The report aimed to agree relocation options with Stagecoach by March, secure private development partners by December and relocate the firm by June, 2017.
A ‘mixed-use’ project is the council’s vision, which would continue the improvement of Worthing seafront, recently boosted by the opening of new bars and restaurants.
Mr Dyer said his firm had always been open to relocation in his 16 years with the company but the figures had never added up.
A council spokesman said: “As was publicly stated in the 2011 Worthing Core Strategy, Decoy Farm was identified as a potential site to relocate Stagecoach to from their depot in Marine Parade.
“Decoy Farm may be an attractive option for the business - one which they are actively considering at the moment.
“We are continuing to work with Stagecoach to try and match their needs with the right site, helping them to continue to offer a high quality, reliable, bus service to the town and surrounding area.”
Town centre manager Sharon Clarke said she would support a relocation, as it would help enable a full pedestrianisation of South Street.
She said: “One of the things we have always wanted is South Street fully pedestrianised. At the moment, it tends to split the east and west of the town centre and you don’t get that natural flow.
“From our point of view, by moving it and putting it in another location we can fully pedestrianise, so we would support it.
“To have development on the seafront is a good thing, especially if we’re going to get more businesses there. A lot of people who come to the town want to have a nice environment on the seafront.”
Decoy Farm is a 7.7 hectare piece of land by Dominion Way, which formerly housed a household waste recycling facility.
It is hoped it could meet a growing demand for industrial units and open storage space, with work starting in 2017.