New offices to replace the nearly demolished Teville Gate House in Worthing have been given the thumbs up.
Work to knock down the vacant Railway Approach office block began at the end of May and is almost complete.
The new five-storey building will provide 8,550 square metres of floorspace and is set to be occupied by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), bringing around 900 staff from Durrington.
An application was unanimously approved by Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee last night (Wednesday June 26).
The proposal is separate to a pending application for a mixed use scheme for the rest of the Teville Gate site, comprising 378 flats, hotel, food store, gym, retail and restaurant units.
Officers explained that a new route between the station and the town centre for pedestrians would be created to the east of the new office block, while public realm improvements would be carried out in Station Approach.
A total of ten car parking spaces are provided within the site, but until work starts on the main Teville Gate site another 50 spaces for staff will be provided.
Jeremy Birkett-Jones, from Hunter Real Estate Investment Managers, described how the project represented a long-term commitment for HMRC to Worthing as it is due to sign a 17-year lease.
The office would mean ‘new life and activity and prosperity’ to this part of Worthing, while the ‘understated’ design would be a ‘massive improvement’ and have a positive impact on Railway Approach.
Architect Frank Hinds, from CDA, argued the building’s ‘simple elegance’ would act as a foil for the ‘exuberance’ of the nearby Grand Victorian Hotel.
Meanwhile Chris Barker, from ECE Planning, described how the site’s redevelopment would be a ‘tangible step forward for Worthing’ and would create a ‘landmark to kick-start the redevelopment of this key regeneration site’.
While councillors praised the design and welcomed the jobs being retained in the borough, there were some questions about traffic and parking.
Helen Silman (Lab, Heene) suggested bus services north and south were not adequate and questioned the impact of this and other nearby developments in the pipeline on parking in nearby residential areas.
She said: “I’m very very concerned, it’s already a very congested area, pollution, parking stress and not sufficient public transport.”
Jim Deen (Lab, Central) welcomed the plans to improve the public realm near the railway station, but was not overly convinced about connectivity to the town centre.
He added: “This is an exciting opportunity for Worthing and one we would want to seize because of the employment which we have to support.”
However he and others raised the fact that responses on highways issues had been received late in the day from West Sussex County Council.
But Worthing planning officers said they were content that all the relevant information had been received to make a decision on the application.
Noel Atkins (Con, Salvington), vice-chairman of the committee, said: “I do have much like the design and possibility of 850 new jobs. It’s just what we need in Worthing.”
After the meeting, Kevin Jenkins, executive member for regeneration, said: “I’m delighted these plans for a major investment in our town centre have been given unanimous backing by the planning committee.
“The proposal brings major benefits, transforming a prominent vacant site into high-quality space for hundreds of workers. This will boost local business and supports our ongoing work to improve the vitality of Worthing.
“This development will also contribute towards plans to redesign and improve Railway Approach in line with our wider public realm ambitions, creating a more welcoming approach for visitors who arrive in our town by train.”