We say '˜no' to Aquarena plan

The Worthing Society Committee has considered the revised draft design for the Aquarena site presented by Roffey Homes at the recent public consultation.

Thursday, 8th September 2016, 10:11 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:56 am

A recent article in the Worthing Herald quoted the Worthing Society as being ‘open-minded’ about the new proposals.

This was, in fact, a misunderstanding as the Society has serious reservations about the proposals and does not consider a beachside site as a suitable location for a tower.

While we are keen to see a good quality development take place on this derelict area the new design must in our view, be sympathetic to the existing historic environment and character of the town.

We consider that the new proposal does not adequately address the reasons for the refusal of the original plans which were that the design, height and massing of the development would have resulted in a serious overdevelopment of the site, creating an unacceptable relationship with the surrounding buildings.

It was also considered that the inclusion of a 21-storey tower would have resulted in a negative impact on the setting of the nearby heritage assets: GradeII* Listed Beach House; the Farncombe Road Conservation Area and the wider setting of the seafront Conservation Areas.

Although the current design does show some improvement to the public realm with a more acceptable street frontage, the size and mass of the associated buildings still appears to dominate the area and would adversely affect, as before, the setting of the neighbouring heritage assets.

The reduction in units from 147 to 143, shown on the revised design, will not in our view make an appreciable difference to the issue of overdevelopment. The inclusion of a tower at the edge of the beach parade still features prominently in the revised proposal despite being a reason for the refusal of the initial plans.

We note the height of the tower has been reduced from 21 to 15-storeys but in our opinion what has been lost in height appears to have been gained in ‘girth.’

The tower continues to be ‘out of step’ with the location and would still be visible from the pier.

As with the earlier design the tower would produce a harmful overbearing effect on the ‘setting’ of Beach House and the Farncombe Road Conservation Area.

The central seafront area is a set piece of Conservation Areas comprising many 19th century buildings which give Worthing its traditional seafront character. This coastal scene is particularly important when viewed from the Grade II Listed Pier. Most buildings are between four and five storeys. A contrasting modern tower at the Aquarena beach site, clearly visible from the pier, would change the character of the town for the foreseeable future The Worthing Society concludes therefore that because the changes shown in the redesign do not sufficiently respond to, and overcome the reasons for the refusal of the original plans, the redesign should again be refused.

An acceptable design for this important beach side location would, in our view, be less dense, sensitive to the heritage assets in the surrounding area and would not include a tower. Roffey Homes have previously produced some good quality developments which have complemented the existing character of the town. We urge Roffey Homes to step back to reflect on the harm that could result to Worthing’s character by overdevelopment and the construction of a tower block on the important Aquarena site and to view the future design in the context of the Worthing’s existing historic character. The Worthing Society does not wish to ‘mothball’ the town but would like to see heritage and regeneration go hand in hand.

These concerns will be included when sending the invited feedback to Roffey Homes following their public presentation.

Susan Belton


Worthing Society

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