WORK on repaving Montague Street was set to begin today – nearly three years after plans to carry out a revamp were announced.
The first phase of works will be carried out over the next five to six months, focusing on Montague Place.
Future phases will stretch along the entirety of Montague Street, in a bid to bring the street scene up to standard with rival towns.
Regular shoppers will notice the loss of the bandstand – which will be torn down within the next four weeks in favour of covered seating and a performance area.
Its loss has prompted a mixed reaction on social media today, with a series of comments on the Herald’s Facebook page.
Some pointed to the 1980s structure as a popular meeting place, while others welcomed the expected new performance area.
Carol McGurn said: “Surprised they are getting rid of more of the character of Worthing and disappointed it is going.”
Bath Place sweet shop owner Paul O’Brien added: “It’s only 25 years old! Get rid leaves a fab performance and events space.”
Here’s how news of the revamp unfolded since it was announced in 2013.
May 2013 - The Herald reveals a planned £1million revamp of Montague Street, the town’s main shopping street. It was hoped work would start as soon as 2014 but the timetable slipped. Worthing Pier county councillor Michael Cloake said it was ‘amazing news’ and hoped it would attract more big-name brands to Worthing.
October 2013 - Four designs were released for public consultation by the Town Centre Initiative. They included light or dark paving, with or without the concrete rotunda, commonly known as the bandstand. A total of 70 per cent preferred grey paving over a darker alternative and 57 per cent voted to keep the bandstand. The Ilex Conservation Group and Worthing Society wrote in support of retaining the bandstand and the red brick pavers. No alternative was suggested to replace the bandstand due to a lack of funding.
November 2013 - A spanner in the design works was introduced, as Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee unanimously advised the retention of red brick in the design, despite the public consultation results. Councillors sided with the public on the retention of the bandstand, however. The response triggered a crunch meeting of interested parties, with agreement to look into the possibility of using red brick in the design.
September 2014 - New 3D images were released. They detailed the intention to pedestrianise Montague Place and the loss of the bandstand was revealed. The drawings show two covered areas for seating and a performance space. Town centre manager Sharon Clarke said the plans represented a better alternative to the bandstand.
April 2015 - Sustainable transport group Sustrans questioned the funding of the scheme. They argued funds from the Coast to Capital sustainable transport schemes pot should not be used. A test bed was laid outside H&M to trial the planned materials.
January 2016 - Work is scheduled to begin.