Agenda item

Interview with Worthing Cabinet Member for Regeneration

To consider a report by the Director for Digital, Sustainability and Resources, copy attached as item 13


The Committee had a report before it, attached as item 13, a copy of which had been circulated to all Members and is attached to the signed copy of these minutes.


A Member asked, “I like to ask this question of all the Cabinet Members. What are the main challenges or obstacles facing the work of Regeneration?”




Members were told that the legislative framework and permitted development was at odds with the ambitions of local authorities. Housing targets, the levelling up bill, ensuring the productivity of assets, recruiting talent and retaining great staff were all big challenges faced.


A Member asked, “Like a lot of the portfolios, Regeneration seems to cover a broad range of responsibilities. Are there any areas that are in danger of slipping through the cracks, so to speak?”




Members were told that it was difficult to drive campaigns and garner public interest on maintenance of assets projects putting them at risk but Members were assured these were not ‘slipping through the cracks’. Members were also told it was essential for the Local Plan to be adopted swiftly so a working group could be established to start looking at the design code of the national planning policy framework.


A Member asked, “The missions of 'Our Plan' include thriving places and that by their nature, these missions are bigger than the individual services provided, needing creative solutions including working with residents, businesses, visitors, communities and partners.

How well do you think your portfolio has developed in the first year of administration, to work with businesses, partners and communities, towards making our places thrive?




Members were told of involvement in recent school competitions, the Big Clean campaign continued to gather momentum with a number of town centre, seafront and neighbourhood cleans in 2022, showed the appetite from residents to care with them for their places and they hoped to see many more people at events. Public consultation on the Lido whereby they received over 4,000 responses and whilst this did provide them with a challenge to review, this was a nice challenge to have as this demonstrated commitment to involving communities in the development of projects, and decision making. They had continued to meet with business owners, members of TCI and looked forward to more.


A Member asked, “Sea level rises are a very immediate concern. If you were to look at the prediction maps for this rise matched with the additional threat of annual floods then the image isn't nice viewing for Worthing and the surrounding areas by 2030 and into the next century.


Can you give the committee any updates on work that is taking place to keep Coastal Protection developing in line with the data shown on sea rises?”




Members were told that Worthing Borough Council undertook annual maintenance works to the coastal defence structures along the entire borough frontage. Works included but were not limited to, re-bolting loose timbers, replacing worn or missing timber planks, wailings and land ties and pile extensions.


Officers from the Council were working with the Environment Agency (EA) and had been working in partnership to secure government grant funding via Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) for a short term and more immediate scheme to undertake the necessary repairs to the timber groynes and maintain shingle levels. The estimated cost of the scheme was approximately £2m, which included a £200,000 contribution from Worthing Borough Council.


As part of this more immediate project, a condition review of all the timber groynes along the Worthing frontage had been carried out by Officers from the Engineering Team. 

The timber groynes were made of either soft or hard wood depending on their age. Timber groynes in the last 25/30 years had been replaced with soft wood, mainly due to costs. As such, the timber groyne field was all substantially at "end of life", which was more apparent in areas where shingle volume was lowest.


These larger repair works had become unsustainable from existing maintenance budgets and external Government funding was being sought from Defra via the Environment Agency to fund these works using their Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Appraisal. 


The longer term future solution (10 years +) to Worthing’s coastal erosion and flood protection would be considered by the partnership and again look to secure government grant funding via Defra. The future solution might consist of replacement coastal defence structures in either timber, rock or both, following consultation and environmental and economic appraisal, but the extent of the works was unclear at this time, including cost. A previous consideration to replace the entire groyne field in Worthing estimated costs of up to £55m, although this was likely to have increased due to the higher costs of materials.


A Member asked, “In your speech at full council on 21st February you highlighted the structural engineering and survey appraisal works that are about to begin on our Lido. Many residents are excited about this part of the town's history being reinvigorated. 

Can you update the committee on the timeline for these appraisals and what the next steps for the Regeneration portfolio will be once these have been concluded?”




Members were told that understanding the structure was the first step. The Council were currently preparing specifications to undertake Ground Condition and physical structural inspections on the Lido. These specialist work requirements would then be procured through a competitive tendering process. On conclusion of the outcome of these investigations, officers of the council would review the findings and would be in a stronger position to propose the next key steps moving forward. At the time it was estimated that this particular work stream would be completed by Autumn 2023.


Members also asked about the future of Southern House as a site for employment and were told that long term aspirations for the sight were still in their infancy.


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