BuildingAW goes live: We are optimistic for the future of our town centres
Released: Friday, 24 May 2019
Town centres brimming with new life and a winning mix of shopping, restaurants and culture is the goal for Adur & Worthing Councils, says the officer leading efforts to revitalise these important assets.
Across the UK - and indeed throughout the world - town and city centres are facing challenges with a decline of traditional retail and the south coast is no different.
But today Martin Randall, the Councils' Director for the Economy, spells out his optimism for the future and reveals a string of developments which he believes will help transform the fortunes of the centres.
In an interview with the Councils' BuildingAW magazine he says he wants to help:
- Build more homes to bring hundreds more residents into the centres breathing new life into the areas.
- Continue to support and develop cultural life in the centres giving people more reason to visit.
- Encourage the creation of town centre jobs by the creation of cutting edge office space.
- Continue to do all he can to support and encourage independent retailing while backing national chains
- Support efforts to bring in high speed public WiFi in the centres to increase connectivity
In the interview Randall points out there are currently scores of projects either about to begin or in the pipeline which are creating homes and jobs spaces bringing people back into the centres after decades in which residents across the UK drifted away. He said:
“I think what you will see is more and more people choosing to live in the centre, right next to the sea in a place that is connected and accessible, where a walk can take you to buy a loaf of bread or a theatre ticket.”
“I think town centres need to hum with life and that life won't only be about retail - our cultural offerings, theatre, music and the rest will go from strength to strength and our restaurants, bars and coffee shops will be thriving.”
He admits that all town centres were currently in transition as some retail switches online but says that the location of our centres gives him great hope. Randall said:
“If you look at the fantastic locations we have, sandwiched between the Downs and the sea, you can see that these are still places people want to come to either to live or to visit.”
“That gives me great comfort and if you look at the efforts Councils and the community make to keep our seafronts smart and enticing that is a big part of our offer. The seafronts and town centres must work in tandem, they must be a winning combination.”
Among the developments Randall highlights today are the Ham Road car park development in Shoreham now the home to 450 workers at Focus Group in state-of-the-art offices built on land owned by Adur District Council. He points to a similar move by HMRC into the former Teville Gate House building in Worthing with hundreds of workers moving back into the town centre.
Meanwhile homes are planned for the former Adur Civic Centre site which is just five minutes walk from the station and Lancing's Luxor cinema, with iconic fascia preserved, has been converted into 12 flats. In Worthing, permission has been granted to St Clair Developments to create 45 flats above a newly-revamped Beales department store, ensuring the retailer remains committed to the town for years to come.
“I know there is concern about city and town centres at present and many are going through tough times but the key is to have a plan in place to transition and we certainly have that.”
Photo: Montague Street in Worthing town centre
Photo: Martin Randall (Adur & Worthing Councils), Cllr Neil Parkin and Russell Miller (of Willmott Dixon) during a tour of new Civic Centre office block
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