Worthing town centre: Council bids for £10.5million to help lead economic recovery from Covid-19

The Government is being asked to back Worthing’s bid to use creative and cultural industries to help kickstart efforts to rejuvenate the town centre and lead a post-pandemic economic recovery.

Worthing Borough Council has bid for £10.5m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund, aimed at schemes to regenerate communities.

In a separate move, the leader of the council Daniel Humphreys and MP for Worthing West, Sir Peter Bottomley, are to meet Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to press the borough’s case for funding.

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The fund money would be used to create creative and cultural spaces through the borough for designers, artists, digital companies and even spaces for gamers to enjoy. Council-backed citizens’ wifi will give thousands of residents access to the ultrafast broadband via a number of community spaces.

Worthing Council has made a bid for £10.5m of Government funding

The Council also wants to investigate the restoration of key buildings in the borough to preserve their historical significance and architectural interest.

Already the council is investing in improving its own Colonnade House digital and art space by upgrading the current facilities, installing ultrafast broadband and creating new studio units for micro-entrepreneurs by bringing back into use two redundant buildings in High Street. Six new homes, a café and further meeting and exhibition space could also be created.

The outline vision, called Driving Creative and Cultural Industries to Worthing, to be submitted to the government also sees the creation of more community spaces and green spaces to attract more people to spend time in the town.

For the creative industry the plan is to identify enhanced and increased studio availability, meeting environments, ultrafast broadband and first class exhibition space.

Worthing Borough Council’s executive member for regeneration, councillor Kevin Jenkins, said: “We are already pushing on with reinventing our town centre and producing plans for post-pandemic recovery but this bid would give us fresh impetus and the money would, of course, be extremely helpful.

“We really believe that, alongside existing and new independent retail, the mix in our town centre should include new digital and creative industries which bring jobs and income as well as better community spaces for all to enjoy. And yes why not space for e-sports taking advantage of this Council’s early adoption of ultrafast broadband into the borough.

“My message to the government would be that despite the appearance that the Levelling Up Fund is targeted to northern communities the need for support in places, such as coastal towns like Worthing, is just as acute. Levelling Up also means a level playing field.”

The Government will now assess bids for the £4.8bn fund before making decisions in the autumn.

At the meeting with Mr Jenrick, councillor Humphreys will press the case for investment in Worthing urging the government to back its bid to lead a creative, cultural and digital economic renaissance of the borough post-pandemic.