The company behind the long-awaited £150 million development at Teville Gate in Worthing has responded to concerns over delays to the scheme that had prompted fears of its collapse.
Hanson Capital Management’s proposals included more than 200 flats in a striking twin-tower design, conference centre, hotel, multiplex cinema and supermarket, which had gained planning permission for the site in 2010.
However, Worthing Borough Council confirmed that it planned talks with the developer over its ability to pay the authority £2million as part of a 106 agreement for community improvement works.
The development firm has cited a downturn in the construction industry as the reason for setbacks to its delivery – which had originally slated for construction to begin in 2011.
Consequently, renewed delays to the Worthing Gateway scheme, which is believed to bring around 1000 jobs, have caused considerable concern and uncertainty over its future.
Last Spring, the site had been placed for sale with the developer’s agents, Savills, which the company subsequently claimed had been done in error.
But according to Companies House records, moves were put in place last September for a compulsory striking off of Hanson Capital Management. This has now been revoked after the company filed its latest financial returns in December.
As previously reported, the website for the scheme has not been updated for three years and still states “work could begin in 2011,” leading to concern the run-down site, which has been described as “an eyesore on Worthing,” would remain in a semi-derelict state.
Sainsburys supermarket and Vue cinemas, which had previously been confirmed as anchor tenants for the site were approached for comment as to whether they were still involved in the development, but declined to comment.
In response, a spokesperson for Hanson Capital Management has said the company still intends to develop the site, though was unable to confirm any timeline.
He said: “The developer is continuing the process of resolving the various issues that have contributed to the delayed start on site, and expects to be able to give a full statement on the current position before the end of February 2014.
“The developer is well aware of the importance of this project to Worthing and the local community, and wishes to confirm a determination to see this scheme through to completion.”
Bryan Turner, Worthing Borough Council cabinet member responsible for regeneration, had previously expressed confidence over prospects for the scheme’s developments.
While believing “the viability of the scheme would improve with the economy,” he was unable to confirm whether Hanson Capital Management, which purchased the site prior to its planning application, was in a position to take the project forward.
Council leader Paul Yallop believed uncertainty over the development needed to be resolved, given the importance of the location and its potential job opportunities.
He added: “At the moment Hanson Capital Management have been the only company to talk to us about this site. It has been suggested to me that we take robust action on this issue and seek compulsory purchase order, but I do not believe we are able to do this without significant cost to the council.
“I have asked the council’s chief executive to look at what is happening with the site and we have some new senior staff who may be able to help get this scheme moving.”