WORTHING TOWN CENTRE VISION
To be clean, safe and vibrant, a lively heart of the community, where visitors are engaged and businesses are inspired and prosperous.
The Worthing Business Improvement District (BID)
To help deliver the vision for the Town Centre the Worthing Town Centre Initiative proposed a Business Improvement District in 2007. A BID would provide funding to deliver projects that those trading in Worthing wanted to see to improve their trading environment. The BID was approved in September 2007 and was launched on 1st April 2008. The BID made a huge difference to Worthing allowing around £200,000 a year to be spent in the Town Centre on projects including
- Floral Displays
- Christmas Lights
- Events & Marketing
- Chewing Gum Removal & Deep Cleaning
- Town Centre Rangers
- Business Crime Reduction
The Business Plan is written by the businesses for the businesses and is delivered by the Worthing Town Centre Initiative.
The Business Improvement District funding comes from businesses trading in the Town Centre who pay an additional levy on their business rates. Business rates are sent back to Whitehall for redistribution and Transport and Education receive a large proportion of this funding. However, the BID levy is ring-fenced for local use and the businesses, via the Worthing Town Centre Initiative Steering Group, decide how it should be invested to improve the Town Centre.
After the success of the 1st term of the BID the businesses were re-balloted during 2012 and a 2nd term for the BID was approved. The business plan was very similar to the first term and the business support for the BID strengthened. In 2012 the big issue in Worthing was parking and the Worthing Town Centre Initiative lobbied for the Council to take the Car Parks back in house and not renew the contract with NCP. The BID provided a voice for businesses to the Council and in 2014 the Car Parks went back under Worthing Borough Council control and prices were reduced from £1.70 per hour to £1 an hour.
The second term of the BID ends on 31st March 2018 and currently businesses are being consulted on a 3rd term business plan and during October 2017 they will be asked to vote again on the BID. In the 3rd term businesses with an Rateable Value of £12,000 or more will be liable for a levy of 1.25% if the vote is successful.
To find out more about BIDs across the UK please click here
The 2018 – 2023 business plan has been developed with research undertaken locally with businesses and at the end of 2016 they were asked to score their priorities within the Town Centre. The top priorities have not changed from when this question was asked before the previous 2 terms of the BID. Regular customer surveys are also undertaken in the Town to ensure that the BID activities will help to drive footfall into Worthing.
The top 4 priorities and the focus for the Worthing BID are :-
- To create an environment that is clean and well-maintained
- To provide a safe and welcoming town centre
- To add vitality, and drive footfall, though marketing and a varied events programme
- To improve transport, parking, orientation and accessibility
Chris Spratt Chairman of the Worthing Town Centre Initiative stated:
“Worthing is not just about one business. The reason that our customers choose to visit the town is to enjoy the whole offer. It is important to ensure that the visitor experience is memorable and encourages repeat visits. If everyone works together this can be achieved and Worthing can continue to be a thriving, vibrant and interesting town centre”.
Achievement and Plans for a Cleaner well Maintained Worthing
In the first term of the BID deep cleaning and chewing gum removal took place on the pedestrian precincts at least twice a year. In the second term a contract was put in place for a weekly visit to manage the chewing gum and hot wash where needed. The new regime has helped to better manage some of the hotspot areas and deal with cleansing issues such as paint spills more promptly.
The BID funds portable ashtrays to reduce the amount of discarded cigarette ends around the town and these have been provided to businesses so they can distribute them to their customers and staff.
The BID funds many of the flowers in the Town Centre and in 2015 and 2016 it was voted Best BID at the South and South East in Bloom awards. The following floral projects are managed by the Worthing Town Centre Initiative from BID funding: –
- Seafront planting competition which encourages businesses, community groups and charities to adopt a flowerbed
- Pavilion roundabout sustainable scheme with sculpture plinth
- Two roundabouts in the High Street on this important Gateway
- The hanging baskets in the West End of Worthing from Heene Road to Crescent Road
- Large Planters outside of the Pavilion Theatre
- Flower beds in Warwick Street
- Small flower bed outside the Buckingham Road toilets.
- Hanging Baskets in Brighton Road
- The new floral display at the junction of Montague Street and Montague Place
- The Guildbourne steps flowerbed near HSBC bank
The vacancy rate is at the lowest it has been but these premises can make the town look unkempt and uncared for. The BID funds window cleaning and fly poster removal on vacant properties. If the owner will give permission, we also cover the windows with attractive vinyl’s.
The BID funds the Christmas Lights and over the first two terms considerable investment has been made in the display and it now receives positive comments from the public and businesses. New innovations such as solar powered lights have been trialled for areas where power isn’t available.
One Off Projects
- Graffiti protecting the underpass in Chapel Road
- Providing architectural plans and public consultation for the enhancement of Montague Street and then lobbying West Sussex County Council for investment. This project is now underway and the Steering Group are committed to keeping this project on the radar of the local authorities so investment will continue. Future phases include the pedestrianisation of Montague Place and Portland Road as well as the repaving Montague Street
- Painting some of the street furniture to supplement the Council’s activities.
The BID also highlights issues and lobbies on behalf of all the businesses in the Town Centre. In February 2015, a walkabout was conducted to highlight poor maintenance and other issues around the Town Centre and from this the Councils have produced an action plan of works. Some of the issues such as tarmac patching need Public Sector investment but are progressing and should be carried out soon. The Worthing Town Centre Initiative also lobby for public realm improvements and we have had a commitment from Leader of West Sussex County Council that Montague Street will be enhanced. Phase 1 has now been completed and further phases, including the pedestrianising of Montague Place and Portland Road (to Chandos Road) are awaiting funding.
To create an environment that is clean and well-maintained
3rd Term Proposals
- Deep cleaning of the pedestrian precincts will continue and a weekly chewing gum removal and regular street wash will take place.
- Hanging baskets will continue to be provided in the West End and Brighton Road during the summer and the Pavilion roundabout will be maintained on a monthly basis to manage weeds and planting. Planting in Warwick Street, the High Street Roundabouts,Buckingham Road and Montague Place will also continue and other areas where flowers will help to enhance the area will be investigated.
- The Pavilion roundabout plinth will be offered to artists to display their work and a programme of Art by the Sea will be developed in this area.
- Vacant Premises will continue to have windows cleaned and fly posting removed to reduce their impact on the environment. Commercial Agents will be encouraged to gain landlord agreement to allow empty premises to have their windows covered with vinyl’s.
- Christmas Lights improvements will continue in the Town and the curtain of light will be provided across the town. New methods of lighting such as light projection will be considered and in some areas where power is not available solar powered lights will be used.
- Public Realm enhancements in the Town will remain a priority and after the success in gaining funding for the first phase of the Montague Street pressure will be kept on Worthing Borough Council and West Sussex County Council to continue with this work.
- Regular janitorial reviews will identify cleansing hot spots and where necessary funding will be used to ensure Worthing looks it best.
Achievments and Plans of a safe and welcoming Worthing
Town Centre Rangers
The BID funds 2 Town Centre Rangers who are ambassadors for the town; they communicate with shoppers and businesses as well as helping to improve the feeling of safety and well-being in the Town. The Rangers help to reduce business crime and figures during 2016 showed that they have helped to recover over £22,000 of stock.
Shopwatch is also funded; it is a Crime Reduction partnership available to BID levy payers at no cost; membership gives access to the DISC app and website which provides information on active offenders and known individuals that can cause issues. Shopwatch also funds a radio infrastructure in the Town Centre so that businesses can invest in a radio which will allow them to communicate with other users and the Rangers. Shopwatch has also funded radios for the Police and key sites, such as the Beach Office, so that intelligence and information can be shared and individuals identified and the appropriate action taken by the authorities.
Engagement with other Agencies
The BID team also engage with other Crime Reduction groups and ensure that national information and intelligence is captured and passed on at a local level. The Rangers help to deal with Street Drinkers and have during the first two terms of the BID provided intelligence and statements that have secured 2 Anti-social behaviour orders and 3 Community Behaviour Orders on individuals that have been causing serious issues around the town. The Worthing Town Centre Initiative have invited senior Police Officers to our meetings to discuss the issues and possible solutions and our Chairman has also met with Katy Bourne, Sussex Police Commissioner.
To provide a safe and welcoming town centre
3rd Term Proposals
- The 2 Town Centre Rangers will continue as ambassadors for the town and they will support businesses in reducing stock loss as well as ensuring shoppers feel safe and well informed.
- Shopwatch will continue to be provided to BID levy payers at no cost this will give access to the DISC system which holds information on known offenders and active individuals. The radio network will be available and businesses can purchase or rent a radio but the BID will issue them to the Police and other key sites.
- The Shopwatch scheme will increase its links with other towns so that intelligence available to members continues to improve.
- Links with the neighbourhood policing team will continue to be developed so that the business priorities can be fed into Local Action Plans.
- Buskers and street pedlars will continue to be managed to ensure they are not causing a nuisance and adhere to legislation and policies.
- Upgrade the radio network from analogue to digital to improve signal quality.
Achievements and plans of a vibrant, well-marketed Worthing
A key objective of the BID is to attract people into the Town Centre. The vision of the Worthing Town Centre Initiative is for Worthing Town Centre to be a vibrant, lively heart of the community, where visitors are engaged and businesses are inspired and prosperous.
Marketing & Advertising
Worthing has the advantage of having its shopping offer very close to the sea front and so our focus has been on maximising the benefit of our location to attract visitors to the Town Centre and our “Shopping by the Sea” campaigns have been run inland to encourage people into Worthing. We do not forget our regular shoppers who are very loyal to the town with 88.5% using it as their primary shopping area. To discourage regular shoppers from going elsewhere our “I love Sunny Worthing” campaign is designed to make people feel good about Worthing.
The “Shopping by the Sea” activities have included a Poster at Victoria Station, a taxi in London, and a bus campaign around Mid Sussex, Radio campaigns on Heart FM, Juice FM and Bright FM. We also arranged for a plane to be flown over Brighton advertising the £1 per hour parking.
The “I love Sunny Worthing” Campaign uses banners and posters around town to promote a positive image of the Town. I Love Sunny Worthing bags are handed out at events which help to create town loyalty as well as being advertising when used elsewhere. Independent Shopping and Food & Drink Guides are also produced to help promote the variety and quality of the Worthing offer.
Website / Social Media
The Worthing Town Centre Initiative website has been enhanced with listings and marketing opportunities for all Town Centre businesses on www.worthingtowncentre.co.uk. Social media is now playing a big part of our marketing activity with Twitter & Facebook being used to promote events, Town Centre businesses and positive news.
The Worthing Town Centre Initiative organise 2 types of events, the pull events such as the Food Festival and the dwell event, for example the urban beach, these keep customers in town longer and improve their perception of the town.
It was the BID that first brought the Ice Rink to Worthing and was run by the Worthing Town Centre Initiative for 4 years. The Rink is now being run commercially and is in town throughout the winter months providing a great attraction in the quieter months.
The Worthing International Birdman
In 2008 the International Birdman came to Worthing and ran until 2015; this event delivered national and international publicity for the Town. After the jackpot distance had been achieved the media interest started to decline but the costs were continually increasing. Research showed that the majority of businesses were not seeing financial benefit from the additional footfall and therefore the committee took the difficult decision to hang up the Birdman wings as the event was costing a third of the BID income.
The Urban Beach first came to town in 2013 and it has proven very popular with visitors and residents alike. South Street Square becomes a community hub helping to keep children occupied while the parents and grandparents shop.
The Food Festival launched in 2012 and has become a key event in the Worthing calendar; the event won the Tourism and Hospitality Award at the Worthing Business Awards in 2016 and helps to promote Worthing as a “Foodie” town.
Christmas is also celebrated with an event every year and these have included Live Reindeer, Cinderella carriage and in 2016 a big event to reinvigorate late night shopping with S Club was a huge success.
The BID also funds smaller events / activities that add to the ambience of the town and here are a few examples :-
- Big Screen in South Street for the Olympic Games – London 2012
- Summer Fun Weekend with SpongeBob Squarepants
- Night Owls competition to promote the Night time economy
- Elvis on my mind event with Brighton Jive
- Speciality markets
The Worthing Town Centre Initiative have also made contributions to local trader associations such as the West End Traders, Royal Arcade, Portland Road and Warwick Street for their own localised events and activities as well as helping other organisations such as the Lions Tide of Light.
To add vitality, and drive footfall, though marketing and a varied events programme
3rd Term Proposals
- Deliver the marketing plan to promote Worthing and increase shopper numbers. Research has shown that Worthing has a catchment population of 143,043 and that 88.5% of this catchment will use Worthing for their fashion and comparison needs. If you compare this loyalty rate to other Towns it is extremely high and our potential to increase this is limited. We know that to continue to increase footfall we need to protect these local customers and then market Worthing to a wider audience to attract them into the Town Centre.
- To protect our existing customers, we will continue to offer and promote events and activities in the Town and we will develop the “I Love Sunny Worthing” marketing to build allegiance to the Town.
- To bring people in from more than a 15-minute drive we will continue and develop the shopping by the Sea campaign to bring people from inland to shop and experience our wonderful seaside location.
- We will continue to organise events in the Town as we know events drive footfall but they also help to make the shopping trip more of a leisure experience which increases dwell times. Events such as the Food and Drink Festival, Christmas Event, and the Urban Beach will be organised and will be well marketed. Also where possible we will support events organised by local trader groups.
- The website will continue to be developed and businesses will be encouraged to build their profile and add events to help use this vehicle to promote business.
- Leaflets and brochures to promote Worthing will take place including continuation of the popular Food & Drink and Independent Shopping Guides.
- Campaigns to promote the value parking in the town will help to attract shoppers from the outside of Worthing.
- We will continue to work with community groups and local bands to have regular entertainment in our event areas to improve the vitality of the town
- Town Centre Wi-Fi is being researched and the marketing opportunities that this can offer BID members will be investigated and options to provide Wi-Fi developed.
Achievements and plans to improve transport, parking, orientation and accessibility
Although transport and access was not one of the objectives in the 1st term of the Business Improvement District the feedback prior to the 2nd term ballot highlighted the negative impact of parking charges on the economic performance of the town. From this feedback the Steering Committee developed an action plan which included some short-term improvements up until the contract expiration in 2014. The Worthing Town Centre Initiative negotiated with the Council to take over the Civic Centre Car Park at weekends and parking was offered at a cost of just 50p per hour on Saturdays.
In 2014, after a robust lobbying campaign, Worthing Borough Council decided not to renew the contract with NCP and took the car parks back in house. At this time the cost in the multi-storey car parks reduced from £1.70 to £1.00 per hour. The cost of parking for Town Centre workers was also raised with the Council and a special validation deal is now available to workers offering parking at £4.00 per day instead of the normal tariff of £10.00.
With many of the Town Centre Car Parks being included in key development sites the Worthing Town Centre Initiative decided to keep transport, parking, orientation and accessibility in the Business Plan to ensure Parking capacity meets the needs of Town Centre visitors
To improve transport, parking, orientation and accessibility
3rd Term Proposals
- We will continue to work with Worthing Borough Council to protect affordable parking prices in the Town Centre and look for opportunities for parking offers to support events and activities in the Town.
- We will work with the Local Authorities to ensure that parking provision meets the needs of visitors to the town as Car Park sites are redeveloped.
- The website will be developed to promote ease of access to Worthing Town Centre, including information on where bike racks are available.
- We will investigate and work with Local Authorities to look at secure bike parking.