Additional parking provision clears way for Grafton site redevelopment

A new town centre car park and the completed refurbishment of the Buckingham Road multi-storey will mean there are enough spaces to allow Worthing's Grafton car park to be closed.

Worthing’s cabinet has agreed to market the site of the Grafton multi-storey to developers, with the hope that the car park could be demolished and transformed with new leisure facilities, homes and open spaces.

Officers will now begin the search to find a suitable developer that can take on the project and meet the town’s ambitions.

Cllr Caroline Baxter, Worthing’s cabinet member for regeneration, last night told the council’s Worthing joint strategic sub-committee that every car park across the town was well below capacity for traffic. 

The Buckingham Road car park with its 259 spaces is due to reopen after extensive refurbishment in February 2024. A new multi-storey car park next to the Worthing Integrated Care Centre in the Civil Quarter is also planned to open by mid 2024, adding a further 190 spaces.

While demand rises and falls at different times of the week and year, on average well under half of the Grafton’s 440 places are occupied at any one time, suggesting that town centre provision by mid 2024 would be sufficient to cope with the car park closing.

The seafront multi-storey is more than 50 years old and would require significant and increasing investment to keep it in a safe condition for visitors over the coming years.

Cllr Baxter also highlighted that it contains just six disabled spaces, whereas the refurbished Buckingham Road and Civic Quarter multi-storeys will include far more, as well as dementia-friendly and family-friendly spaces.

The Grafton site includes the car park, the bowling alley, the Level 1 food and drink area,  a small number of shops in Montague Street and access roads to neighbouring buildings, covering roughly the area of a football pitch. The council recently bought the leases to the shops from Clarks to Argos on the southern side of Montague Street to make it easier to develop the whole site.

Cllr Baxter said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to find an exciting, creative solution for this part of our historic seafront.

“We’ll now look for a developer who can come up with a vision to match our ambitions for this site, to revitalise the area for our whole community.”

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