A £20m bid to revive Worthing's tourism and cultural offer to help boost economic revival in the town is to be submitted to the government next month.
The Museum, Lido and improved streetscapes linking attractions are the three central planks of the bid which is to be submitted under the government's Levelling Up Fund which seeks to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK.
The Council believes cultural and recreational development will strengthen civic pride amongst local residents and drive ambition and opportunity for the arts, leisure and recreation, heritage and creative industries. The Council says the bid offers very strong value for money and is founded on a solid business case which will create jobs and apprenticeships.
The bid splits three ways although the actual sums for each have yet to be finalised:
- The Lido: The Council wants to invest in rebuilding the structure of the iconic landmark so that exciting new plans for its use can be brought forward in consultation with the public.
- Worthing Museum & Art Gallery's Let the light in project: A dramatic transformation of the entire building into a seamless bright spacious series of galleries to showcase the collections as well as significantly expanding education and research facilities.
- Public realm street design and wayfaring: The new public realm will provide new opportunities for active travel, creating a walkable, welcoming town centre.
Worthing Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Martin McCabe, said:
“These are really important projects which could revive two important cultural assets while ensuring the town is connected through pleasant, safe and sustainable routes to allow residents and tourists alike to discover what has perhaps been hidden in the past, namely that we have a rich heritage to draw on.
“However I believe we really need to improve our cultural offer for both residents and tourists alike and create a strong identity for the town. That way we boost civic pride, support local creativity and also create a buzz about the town as somewhere to visit. All this will boost our economy but there's much work to be done and success with these bids would give us a significant leg up.”
Cllr McCabe said success with the Levelling Up bids was by no means certain with many Councils all over the country fighting for the same grants but pledged the Council would continue to work hard to bring the projects to fruition whatever the results of the process.
Work is continuing to finesse the bid ahead of a deadline to submit to the government by 6th July 2022. The bids can only concern transport infrastructure, much of which in Worthing is the responsibility of West Sussex County Council, town centre regeneration and culture investment.
The Council wants Worthing to benefit from the up-surge in staycations and the revival in British seaside resorts but says this has not been as successful as some other coastal communities. While the investment in a diverse economy is helping the borough economically, a joined-up cultural offer for visitors and a welcoming and attractive focus for community participation is now needed to sustain this