Vacant Worthing building to become modern eco hotel
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In what will be a million pound project, 37 Richmond Road has been revitalised to provide nine guest accommodation rooms with related facilities. The site – originally built as a grand wash house – will be returned to its 1910 civic stature.
Known as SLEEP, the hotel will combine a carbon neutral business providing tourism and employment whilst also ‘restoring and protecting’ the building for ‘many future generations’.
The man behind the idea is restaurateur Andy Sparsis, who is the director of the Worthing Town Centre Initiative.
Andy said: “It’s a beautiful building which we are rescuing and otherwise would have been lost. We are restoring it back to its former glory.
"I’ve had this idea for ages and we’ve got a good chance to change tourism. We chose Worthing for this project – it’s a good town with great people.”
Andy said Worthing has a ‘lack of alternative accommodation’, adding: “Tourism suffers because it doesn’t encourage enough of the newer type of travellers.
"I believe Worthing has got brilliant offers for accomodation, great hotels and great B&Bs. We are not trying to compete with them.
"We want to fill in the gaps and be part of that great group of people. We are hoping to bring people to Worthing that wouldn’t usually come because the accomodation they want isn’t there. That’s what we’re proud of.”
SLEEP was described in the planning documents as a carbon neutral accommodation model for active travellers. The eco inn will host nine luxury short stay accommodation rooms – ‘interchangeable to accommodate a wide variety of visitors’. No visible structural changes have been proposed – ‘only enhancements, decorations and restorations’.
Rooms will be fitted with ‘habitat monitoring sensors’, which will assess room temperatures and make sure empty rooms are not heated or cooled.
"SLEEP will attract visitors that are looking for alternative accommodation more suited to their lifestyle,” the plans read.
"At SLEEP we will be engaging with the local jobs market to recruit an energetic hospitality and media aware team. Employees will benefit from more flexible working with our ‘childcare while you work’ policies and team shift changing allowing staff to move and swap shifts with other employees at short notice.
"We also work with local education providers to offer training on a wide range of BTEC courses allowing staff to train and acquire qualification while working.”
SLEEP will also add extra employment to the local economy. The plans added: “From local cafés providing breakfast, bakery’s producing beach picnics to Marmalade Bikes providing great adventures. Working with local independence business will add good consistent trade all year round to small business.”
Mr Sparsis said the guest journey is ‘completely automated’ and will save an estimated seven tonnes a year ‘just on the heating system’.
He added: “We are proud to be working with Marmalade MTB, who will be our cycling partners. They will offer tours around South Downs and Worthing as part of the booking.
"Guests will get free electric parking and the most stylish rooms around, with modern comfortable beds. It will be as up to date as any New York or London hotel for bed and breakfast prices.
"We are really proud of the open spaces upstairs and downstairs. We will have an arcade machine upstairs. Guests get free work space as well as a chance to visit Worthing’s first library of ridiculous books downstairs. We have hundreds of books that are completely bonkers and make no sense.
"There will be a mini tourist information point in the lobby and everyone will get superfast broadband free with the booking.”
As part of the plans, it is hoped the bell tower will chime once again – at social hours – pending approval from Worthing Borough Council.
Andy said: “It hasn’t been used for around 100 years. We want to reinstate that and bring the building back to be part of the neighbourhood. It’s been invisible for too many years and we want to bring it back to be a visible jewel of Worthing.
“We are pushing boundaries of what accomodation can do, with a lot of technology around the building – a digital concierge.”
Andy said SLEEP will be the ‘lowest carbon managed building in Sussex’ and will be ‘as close to zero carbon as possible’.
He added: “Brighton University is helping us with funding and managing.
"If you open a business today, you have to make sure we are thinking about the next generation and not damaging it for them.
“Our rooms will work for a family of five, a dorm room for six girls going to the races or a sports group coming down to do windsurfing. We’ve got bikes storage and surfing boards, with on-site washing and drying facilities.
"We will have all the best sports facilities, best bike rides and paddleboarding – with pre-booked and discounted restaurants. You will experience the best Worthing has to offer.”