Regenerating Worthing Town Centre for Community Living & Work
At the beginning of the year, plans were announced for the old Debenhams building on South Street, its future destined to be one centred around community and living spaces, as much as shopping and work. It’s welcome news and a reflection of Worthing’s burgeoning town centre regeneration plans.
In fact, those plans are well underway, having increased ten-fold since the fallout of the pandemic. While high streets have been on a gradual decline for years, enforced lockdowns and a record-breaking shift to online shopping has escalated the issue.
So, the question is, what do we do about it?
Worthing is already a desirable place to live
Firstly, let’s start by saying this: Worthing is a fantastic location to live, work and play.
Convenient transport links to major cities like London and Brighton make for easy commutes to work or adventures out of town. But don’t think you need to venture elsewhere because Worthing town centre has plenty on offer.
Culture and entertainment are in abundance, with museums, art galleries, arcades, theatres, bowling, ice skating and two of the oldest working cinemas in the country to name a few – and that’s just what’s available in the town centre.
Food and drink establishments are popular, with plenty of swanky bars, traditional pubs, micro-breweries, big-name and independent restaurants and takeaways to satisfy even the most discerning foodies and connoisseurs.
Retail therapy is covered too, with a generous retail quarter at the centre, hemmed in by the coast and sprawling residential areas that back on to the South Downs National Park.
Why the need for regeneration?
While there is a lot on offer to attract buyers to Worthing (not least it honours both as one of the sunniest places in Britain and best places in the world to watch a sunset), it’s still burdened by the impact of society’s rapidly changing relationship with the traditional high street.
To meet the demands and continue to be an appealing proposition for buyers seeking life by the sea, investment in regeneration is vital to ensuring the town thrives for years to come.
It’s well worth it too. Take Manchester; back in the 1980’s, the city experienced a renaissance, transforming it from a drab city centre to one of the country’s leading centres for commerce ad culture. How did they do it? In part, by reimagining ‘what was’ into what ‘could be’, including the rejuvenation of historical industrial landmarks and attracting new investment.
Councillor Kevin Jenkins, the Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, explains why Worthing is ready for a similar revival of its own: “With its fantastic coastal position, access to the countryside and excellent transport links, Worthing is very much a place on the up, with thousands choosing to move here above other locations in the area.
He continues, “It’s crucial that we do our part as a Council to support that change which is why we are bringing forward a range of improvements, including £12 million in the new public realm, free public WiFi and pop-up trading space for independent traders.”
Alongside the Council, investors are encouraged to do their bit, too. New building works are springing up all over Worthing, many in prominent locations. Alongside the towering ‘coastal gateway’ landmark of Bayside Apartments, the Calista Apartments development is already underway.
Not everything is a new-build venture
Like the repurposing of historical buildings in Manchester, redevelopment takes many forms. At Michael Jones, we believe every good regeneration project requires foresight into our existing spaces, the people who use them and the possibilities for giving them a new lease of life.
Take Portland Road as an example – a £925,000 pedestrianisation and modernisation project funded by West Sussex County Council and a local growth fund to transform an existing space into one that’s both safe and inclusive.
The old Debenhams isn’t the only building on South Street preparing for a revival. Another perfect example is the aptly named South Street Apartments, currently under development at the old Beales department store.
Marcus Farrell, Group Managing Director at Empire Construction, overseeing the development agrees with our sentiments about harnessing what already exists when developing:
“It was important that we don’t unwittingly create places that people in the local community think aren’t for them, especially in terms of presentation. That’s why we engaged with a broad range of people to make sure the design, look, and feel is inclusive to those we want to attract. It’s important that South Street apartments are fit for purpose and benefit our target market. A good regeneration scheme starts with what already exists – whether that’s people, landscape, or existing buildings. We’re doing that with the old Beales building.”
South Street Apartments will feature a collection of stylish twenty-one studio, one and two bed contemporary homes. They’re ideal for working professionals and couples who want to live and work in the heart of the town centre, with everything Worthing has to offer – culture, entertainment, food, drink and leisure – a short walk away.
They’re even taking it a step further. Resulting from conversations with locals prior to development, they settled on the idea of giving away a free Batribike Trip electric bike with every apartment, enabling people to travel in a more convenient, eco-friendlier and healthier way, thanks to its ability to handle power-assisted riding and manual pedal-power.
Worthing’s town revival is moving quickly to meet the needs of residents, aiming to become a modern hub that merges living, working and community at its centre. You can explore all the developments taking place that Michael Jones are involved with, which includes the brand new South Street Apartments.
If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact our office on 01903 228 601 or email Max Harbron at email@example.com.
Content accurate at time of publishing.