Former council leader’s ‘regret’ over Aquarena developer choice

Paul Yallop at the Splashpoint swimming pool, adjacent to the former Aquarena building
Paul Yallop at the Splashpoint swimming pool, adjacent to the former Aquarena building

FORMER Worthing Borough Council leader Paul Yallop has spoken of his ‘regret’ over his part in picking Roffey as the developer for the Aquarena site.

Just days before the council’s planning committee considers plans for a 21-storey tower block, Mr Yallop took to social media to express his disappointment over the controversial plans.

He said: “With the benefit of hindsight I very much regret my part in the decision to pick Roffey as the developer for the old Aquarena site. When we chose them they were delivering tasteful developments such as Eardley which respected Worthing’s history and character.”

Mr Yallop said Roffey had failed to ‘respect’ the design brief for the site – a document outlining the council’s vision for the redevelopment of the Brighton Road site.

The brief suggests a building of between four and five storeys, although it recognises potential for a taller element.

He warned approving the application may set a precedent for similar future applications.

The former leader stepped down in January and now serves on the planning committee.

Because of his involvement in selecting Roffey as the preferred buyer for the site, along with other senior councillors, he will not sit on the committee when the application is decided on Tuesday.

He said: “I will not sit on the planning hearing for this application because as a previous council leader I promised concerned residents that the land sale and planning issues would be separated with separate council members considering each aspect.

“However, I truly hope the members considering this matter will be mindful of what they want Worthing to be.

“Do we wish for a high rise sea front or do we want to retain the existing character which remains?”

The committee will decide the application at a meeting on Tuesday (September 22) at Worthing Assembly Hall in Stoke Abbott Road from 6.30pm.

Council officers have recommended approving the plans, although the decision lies solely with the councillors.

Roffey managing director Ben Cheal said: “From the start we have been willing to deliver the Aquarena site to ensure the town wasn’t left with a derelict eyesore, which unfortunately is true of all other ‘area of change’ sites in the town centre over the last few years.

“We’ve worked with Worthing Borough Council’s brief and developed plans carefully and in consultation over four years, and this is reflected in the endorsement of the council’s own planning officers, who say our proposal should be approved.”