The ‘out of the box’ think tank that I was lucky enough to be invited to attend made me think long and hard over the last couple of days about Worthing. So much so that I have been looking back at experiences of the 10 years I spent in London and 5 in Lancing before penning this post.

Worthing’s Not Working. ‘How can we improve the town?’ was the question on everyone lips at the think tank.  Out of a day’s conversations and mini tours came a wealth of good practical and achievable ideas; of course along with some crazy and off the wall ones; which always add colour!

So where do I sit on all this and as a non Worthing Resident why do I care?

The environment we live and work in are important to me and they should be to you. Living on the Old Kent Road back in ’95 for a year or so was a drab and depressing experience but what I learnt from this is that with a little community involvement and fellow support the face of what was one of the worst inner city neighbourhoods can be made better. This slight shift had a large knock-on effect to the residents and general well being within the area. It generated a sense of community.

Okay so I’m not comparing Worthing to the Old Kent Road but I am in the fact that we should all forget about shiny glass shopping malls, forget Multiplex cinemas, forget all the large scale development. We can’t change that and we shouldn’t focus our efforts on that. Instead focus on the smaller achievable goals that residents can get involved with. Community driven initiatives are far better than think tanks dictating what should or shouldn’t be done. (Don’t think we’re planning a dictatorship, but you get my drift.)

Worthing has so many jewels in it’s crown; yes some have lost their sparkle, but there are still many that make the town unique and different from the ‘identical towns’ we see the length and breadth of the UK. What isn’t working is the desire for everyone to get involved and make Worthing the town they want it to be. As the economy grows the large scale developments will come, this may take years in planning and sway back and forth through political change but they will happen; but they will happen according to what ‘fits’ Worthing.

With the South Downs on one side and the sea on the other the town is unique and envious to others but limited in space for development. What comes will come, change is inevitable but the uniqueness shouldn’t be lost and the uniqueness of the town should be expanded upon. Just look around – beautiful architecture, one of the best water sports spots on the South Coast, the South Downs National Park, independent shops, and a new architectural first for Worthing with the swimming pool/leisure complex.

There seems to be a sense of ‘We Want’ in the town, but many of these wants seem faceless, worthless, non value adding lifeless solutions that don’t address the underlying issues

So what to do.

Ask the residents what the want and only work on achievable projects and programs that add real value… and ones that the community can get involved in. From small seeds grow great things.