'Decaying, historic' Worthing buildings could become 'much-needed homes'
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Worthing Borough Council has announced it is considering new proposals to restore the Georgian façade of 5 and 7 High Street while developing the interior into short-term accommodation ‘for those in desperate need of somewhere to live’.
"A pair of decaying, historic buildings in Worthing town centre could be renovated to become much-needed homes for local residents again,” a council spokesperson said.
The council said 5 High Street is derelict, ‘having been gutted by a fire’.
Previously approved plans for the council-owned site would have seen 5 and 7 High Street ‘demolished as part of a wholesale remodelling’ of the area around Colonnade House.
"However rising construction costs and interest rates mean that scheme is now unviable,” the spokesperson explained.
"The new scheme, which could include government funding, would maintain and preserve the Georgian frontage on High Street but would involve a complete redevelopment of the interior of the building to create four one-bedroom and four studio flats. The neighbouring property at 62 Ann Street would also be part of the project.
"The flats would be council homes, to be used as temporary accommodation for local residents on Worthing’s housing register and who would otherwise need to be put up in short-term lets or B&Bs by the council.
"A shortage of local property means the council is currently paying for more than 200 households to be housed outside of Adur and Worthing, at a cost of up to £200 per household, per night.”
The council said its new scheme relies upon the buildings being ‘declared structurally sound’ by surveyors.
If they are not, they could be demolished to make way for new temporary accommodation that would be designed to fit in with the surroundings, the council revealed.
The spokesperson added: “The extra accommodation would allow the council to bring residents back to Worthing – making it easier for the locals to keep their jobs and keep in contact with friends and family, while also saving the council an estimated £1.8m in housing costs over the next 40 years.
"Colonnade House next door would retain its position as Worthing’s hub for creative businesses, and the two units at 3 High Street would also be retained.”
Emma Taylor-Beal, Worthing’s cabinet member for housing and citizen services, said the town is ‘critically short’ of temporary accommodation for citizens who ‘suddenly find themselves at risk’ of being homeless because of the cost of living crisis.
She added: “Too many local families currently have to be housed outside the borough, sometimes hundreds of miles away or in costly B&B accommodation. That causes issues with their work and their children’s education, makes it more difficult for them to get support from their family and friends and affects their physical and mental health.
“We’re determined to bring Worthing families back to Worthing, through schemes like this.”
The plans will be discussed by Worthing’s cabinet at 6.30pm next Tuesday (December 5) at Worthing Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public and can also be listened to live or afterwards here.