Worthing seafront strategy: Council under fire for '˜similarities' to £400m scheme it dismissed

A lagoon at the heart of grand plans for Worthing seafront was unveiled last week '“ but you might be forgiven for thinking you had heard it all before.

An aerial view of Worthing seafront
An aerial view of Worthing seafront

David Mulvagh believes a Worthing Borough Council blueprint shares striking similarities with his ambitious Project Worthing proposal - outlined in the video above - scotched by town hall officials in 2010.

A lagoon was one of the key parts of the retired businessman’s vision – but after rejecting his version he said the council faced years of repeating detailed work that had already been done.

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“My first emotion was that I was extremely angry but that doesn’t do any good,” he said as he described the moment he saw last week’s Herald’s front page.

An aerial view of Worthing seafront

“Someone said maybe you should take it as a compliment. At the same time I thought they have had detailed concepts of how it could be done.”

Project Worthing included an ‘arena’, featuring an Olympic-sized swimming pool, ice rink, theatre/concert hall and conference centre on the Aquarena site and adjoining seafront, in Brighton Road.

A lagoon stretching eastwards from Splash Point to Brooklands Lake, featuring wind turbines, was also envisaged, together with a marine village on the Worthing and Lancing border.

Herald cuttings of coverage of Project Worthing

Mr Mulvagh, colleague Bill Harding and a team of national and internationally-renowned organisations presented plans to town figures at the Ardington Hotel in September, 2009.

Separately, Mr Mulvagh said he was among thousands of residents who petitioned for restoration of Worthing Lido, including re-opening the outdoor swimming facilities. The council’s new vision includes the potential for reinstating the pool.

The plug was pulled on Project Worthing after the council said the promoters failed to prove plans were finally viable – despite the insistence it was fully costed.

The authority instead built the Splashpoint leisure centre and Roffey Homes will develop the Aquarena site.

Herald cuttings of coverage of Project Worthing

In a letter to the Herald, Mr Mulvagh said detailed designs produced for Project Worthing could still be useful.

He said: “(Last week’s) article implies that Worthing Borough Council will seek potential partners and funding for ‘their’ lagoon. I suggest they look at all the Project Worthing documentation submitted to them in 2009 and 2010 where they may find a starting point.

“As they have already wasted seven years I have to assume a speedy, professional, progressive approach to urban and seafront regeneration is not that high on their agenda.”

The Herald highlighted Mr Mulvagh’s comparison to the council and requested a comment.

A town hall spokesman had not done so by the time the Herald went to press.