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Worthing leaders encouraged about future of town centre

Released: Wednesday, 22 January 2020

“We're encouraged about the future of our town centre” - that's the message from Worthing Borough Council as leaders committed to keep on transforming the heartbeat of the borough.

While other UK towns and cities are seeing falling footfalls and empty shops due to a decline in retail, Worthing appears to be adapting well to this period of change - with low vacancy rates, a growing food and drink offer and thriving theatres and cinemas.

While admitting the current look and feel of the town centre will continue to change, the council said it would act within its powers and resources to support the evolution of the area.

Leaders added that the roll-out of citizen WiFi, new pedestrianised areas and exciting regeneration projects, there were plenty of reasons why Worthing can look to a promising future.

PR20-008 - Cllr Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council's Executive Member for Regeneration

Councillor Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council's Executive Member for Regeneration, said:

“I'm proud of our town centre and encouraged about what the future holds for what is the heartbeat of our thriving borough.”

“Unlike many places across the UK which are suffering from economic uncertainty and decline in retail, Worthing's town centre is holding its own.”

“We have relatively few empty shops - with vacancy rates standing at about 6 per cent compared to 10 per cent across the UK - as well as an excellent mix of independent and multinational traders, good-quality restaurants, exciting cultural offer with two thriving cinemas and increasingly more leisure opportunities. This is all within a short walk of our beautiful coastline and the UK's pier of the year.”

An indication of the change came this week with the news that national department store Beales, which has a premises in South Street, has gone into administration.

This is despite the council working with the business and the private owner of the site to develop a smaller store leading to the creation of additional units for independent traders and homes above.

At the same time, a number of new outlets are moving into the town - with Bert's Homestore the latest, opening in Montague Street next month.

Cllr Jenkins said:

“There's no doubt that this is a period of change and the look and feel of Worthing will change in the next couple of years.”

“We are ready for that and will continue to work closely with the Town Centre Initiative, individual traders and private landlords who own the majority of the buildings to understand their concerns and support them where we can with our limited resources.”

“We will also continue to look to the future, to ensure that our town centre becomes a thriving mix of shops, workplaces, good-quality homes and exciting experiences, so that it becomes a place that people use all hours of the day.”

“Ambitious plans to rollout free citizen WiFi with gigabit broadband speeds has the potential for transforming how visitors and companies see our town centre.”

“We are also committed to making a visit to Worthing more of an experience - with new pedestrianised areas, increased leisure opportunities and the return of the Worthing Observation Wheel all bringing benefits.”

“We are also progressing with major regeneration proposals, such as the scheme to redevelop Union Place, bringing homes and commercial space, along with an expanded cinema to the town centre.”

“Things will not be easy, and there will be challenges ahead, but by working together I know we can ensure the town centre has a future for years to come.”

Photo:

PR19-084 + PR20-008 - Montague Street in Worthing town centre

(PR20-008)

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