The long-redundant Teville Gate site is set to be bought by Worthing Borough Council for more than £7.5m in a bid to bring fresh impetus to its development.
The council is determined to seize the initiative on the site after both the collapse of a private plan to build homes and a hotel and the failure of a major house builder to agree terms on the sale of the land.
Now the council will spend its own money on the site and begin the search itself for a development partner. While the search is on it plans to use the site for temporary attractions such as Christmas Markets and other outdoor events.
A report to the Council's Joint Strategic Committee next week (13 July 2021) says the strategic importance of the site to Worthing has prompted officers to 'go it alone' so that development opportunities can be fully explored. In private hands the danger could be that Teville was left idle, so called land banking, for many more years to come.
The current owners of the site Mosaic Global Investment Ltd gained agreement from Worthing planning committee in March 2020 for a 378 homes development with a hotel to be called Station Square. When Mosaic was not able to develop the plans itself or find a buyer, the Council sought a partnership with house builder Vivid Housing Ltd to construct new affordable homes in a joint venture.
Now, says the report, Vivid has pulled out of buying the site. It adds that the economic impact of the pandemic made the deals 'particularly challenging'.
It recommends the purchase, funded by prudent borrowing, of the site by the Council alone setting a three-year target for finding a developer to purchase the site as the economy recovers and the need for affordable homes continues to grow.
Three years ago the Council demolished the car park, which it held on a long lease, in order to bring impetus to plans but these have now stalled.
Worthing Borough Council's Executive Member for Regeneration, Cllr Kevin Jenkins, said: “We have been very patient and tried to do everything in our power to help the private sector bring forward plans for Teville, from demolishing the car park to going into partnership with Vivid.
“Now is the time to completely take control ourselves and search for our own partner to develop the site whether that be for housing or a mix of housing, hotel and retail but it must be recognized that any decision must allow a viable scheme to come forward and enable the Council to offset its financial commitment.
“The easy thing to do would be to sit back and blame the private sector and the current economic situation but we are not going to do that.
“We are still 100 percent committed to bringing that site back to life, temporarily by using it for outdoor events and longer term for much-needed new homes.”
The report recommends the Council give the major projects team permission to negotiate to buy the site with a total budget of £8m.