A company has expressed its disappointment with Adur District Council after a £60million project to transform a civic centre into housing, a hotel and business space fell through.
In April, Adur District Council chose KSD SteelRock Estates Ltd to redevelop the centre, but the council announced it was now ‘considering other options’ for the site.
Proposals had been put forward to create a digital skills academy there, alongside new business and residential space.
Chief executive at SteelRock Rupert English said he was ‘extremely disappointed to have been denied the opportunity to deliver the development’.
He added: “Having spent the last twelve months assembling a world-class project delivery team and designing and refining a mixed-use scheme that addresses Adur and Worthing Councils’ own stated re-generation agenda to include sufficient category A office space to provide local employer, Focus Group’s, present and anticipated future office accommodation needs, a digital skills/training academy and other facilities and services relevant to the residents of Shoreham-by-Sea and surrounding areas, we are naturally extremely surprised and disappointed to have been denied the opportunity to deliver this development due to circumstances outside of our control.
“We have been ready to proceed with the planning process and commence an extensive public consultation exercise on the scheme for some time now and are currently reviewing our options now that the council has finally made a decision after a hiatus of over four months, during which period we had identified and agreed commercial terms with a replacement local contractor partner recommended to us by the council.”
Ralph Gilbert is the managing director at Southwick company Focus.
The civic centre proposals were set to provide expansion space for the firm to double in size.
He said: “We are obviously disappointed the redevelopment plans for the centre have hit a stumbling block.
“Focus Group have not given up on moving to this landmark site and are already in talks with the council to ensure this remains a feasible option for our continued growth in the area.”
UKIP councillor Ken Bishop said he was ‘pleased’ with the news the sale had fallen through. “I personally am quite pleased because I didn’t like it a lot and I did express that right from the start,” he said.
“I hope it’s going to be sold off as two separate entities.
“The north of the land lends itself to social housing, or Adur District Council could even build council houses there.
“That would be wonderful.
“The actual civic centre building itself can be entirely separate.
“I would like to see Adur District Council involved in a partnership rather than just selling it off then dealing with planning applications. I think we can have a much better development on that site that will benefit the people of Shoreham.”
Council leader Neil Parkin said: “Of course, we are disappointed that the original team who presented so well have been unable to work together.
“However, this change in circumstances provides the council with an opportunity to take a more direct approach in securing much needed employment space, alongside new homes, in Shoreham.
“We are actively considering a range of options – which might include forming a joint venture – to drive delivery forward and ensure that this important site meets our aspirations for the future of the town.”
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