Portland Road Regeneration
After over a year of works in Portland Road, the multi-million pound regeneration funded by WSCC and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Scheme, is coming to an end!
This got us thinking about all the interesting independent businesses there are in this area, how they feel about the works, and the history of the area in general. We decided to write a 'Spotlight' feature, and give you a little overview on what is going on in Portland Road these days, with a gentle nod (in pictures) to it's past. We hope you like it!
And, by the way, did you know - Portland Road used to run all the way to the seafront?!
The works are apparently part of a wider plan to regenerate 8 public spaces over the next few years, and the aims were set out as:
- creating safe, well-lit public spaces with attractive and comfortable seating, space for continental-style dining and events, beautiful tree planting, soft landscaping & free ultrafast public wifi
- making the street a 'vibrant destination', encouraging people into the town centre and supporting local business
- connecting the train station with the town and seafront with pedestrians and cyclists in mind
- using high quality materials and providing cycle racks
- providing space for people with mobility issues or who are visually impaired
- creating a pedestrian only zone from 10am-10pm apart from exceptional access, allowing 'spill out areas' for shops and businesses, and increasing safety for pedestrians
It had been hoped that the works could be completed by the end of 2021 (having started in April of that year), and they were certainly expected to finish by Spring of this year. We searched for old photos of the area to compare Portland Road over the years (credit to Bygone Worthing FB group and Alf Regis), and spoke to many of the business owners to find out what they thought about the work.
Reviews of the works were mixed - but overall, business owners are very positive and excited for the benefits of the refurbishment, and looking forward to Portland Road becoming a real destination for visitors, shoppers and passers by. It has been an extremely challenging couple of years, with the pandemic and the works making a significant dent in the independents' ability to thrive. One issue for businesses that has cropped up frequently in conversation, is the difficulty with the lack of parking or loading bays, and getting deliveries now the road has been altered to pedestrian from 10am-10pm - as we all know, you can't control what time deliveries arrive and often stock is heavy or cumbersome. That said, hopefully with the works coming to an end, and with the summer upon us, things will be on the up for this lovely area and all the superb indies that are here.
What do you think of how this area has changed, and what it now offers?
Independents in Portland Road that we know or managed to chat to:
An independent supermarket that hails from Brighton and has a strong emphasis on ethical practices, the environment and supporting the community. HISBE stands for How It Should Be.
An Independent Worthing member business offering a GENEROUS 20% DISCOUNT this weekend 1-3 July (usually 10%) for our subscribers to celebrate the completion of works.
A gaming, food and drinks venue that hails from Portsmouth and provides a very unique and fun option for friends and family to hang out.
An Independent Worthing member business offering 2 for £12 on cocktails + £2 off gaming charges for our subscribers, and doing a SPECIAL OFFER FOR THIS WEEKEND 1-3 July, of one of their delicious sourdough toasties or quesadillas, soft drink & cover charge for £11.
A family run coffee, brunch & cocktails venue that hails from Brighton and has a great community ethic.
An Independent Worthing member business offering 10% discount for our subscribers.
A high energy cocktail bar owned by Worthing local and 'Two Door Cinema Club' drummer Ben, who travels a lot with the band and so has a keen eye and lots of experience as far as hospitality is concerned. Manuka, named after the honey that the lead singer soothes his throat with, and featuring in their cocktails, was also refurbed in January and has now been open for 5 years.
This lovely local gallery run by artists started it's life as a 'pop up' empty shop in the Montague Quarter, and has moved twice. It's directors Alan and Kim host a wide selection of work for sale by over 40 talented local and Sussex artists, as well as now having studio space for workshops.
Owned by Marco, a local of Italian heritage, who has run this popular classic Italian restaurant for nearly a decade.
A franchise, so not strictly an independent, but nevertheless owned and run by a local young man with an impressive business and work ethic, serving amazing bubble tea (our first time trying it!) - we loved this great business and will definitely be back.
A trad barbers established in 2014, offering men's haircuts and hot towel shaves, run by Aydin & Emrah. Both locals who learned their trade working in Brighton.
- Eccentric Chaos Antiques
Alan and his daughter own and run this fairly recently opened antiques and decoratives shop, and are passionate about finding gems, and making them affordable for everyone. They specialise in Regency, Georgian and Victorian furniture, and sell at wholesale prices, with smaller margins than the average antique dealer. Get down and have a browse!
A great little sandwich bar that changed hands to the current owners Clare & Bill just before the pandemic.
Not in Portland Road but in Field Row just behind; a fabulous indie in the area none the less. A tailor with a quick turn around time (they can do same day!) and a great reputation, that has been here since 1994! Often the go-to recommended tailor in Worthing and very busy and popular!
A family-owned Gin & Brunch Bar, with over 140 gins and known for their bottomless brunches. They also provide space for independent networking meetings, hold comedy nights, drag events (working with Worthing Pride and the Carousel Youth Project), cinema nights on their roof terrace and live music.
We didn't manage to chat to all of the independents (there are quite a lot, and they are busy people!), but they must be included, and here they are:
- The Fat Greek Taverna - a well known and popular greek-inspired independent restaurant, sister business to another Worthing independent, the Fish Factory
- That Glam Bar - a small independent beauty salon
- The Woods Burger Kitchen - an independent up-market burger restaurant
- The Vegan Street Food Company - again, in Field Row rather than Portland Road, but worthy of a mention - a vegan, gluten-free cooking school and cafe with rave reviews and loyal customers
- John Wildman & Sons Butchers - Worthing - family run butchers
- The Hare & Hounds - independent pub and Worthing institution
- Lucifers Cafe Bar - relative newcomer in Portland Road, a cafe/bar on the corner of Portland and Shelley Roads
- Saigon Nails & Beauty - A nail bar
Do let us know what you think about Portland Road, the regeneration, and the businesses there....and the businesses you remember from the past! We loved trawling through all the photos of Portland Road through the years, and it also helped us to realise how much regeneration the area has already experienced!
Above all, please remember to head down and support all these wonderful small businesses that are absolutely excited to welcome you and celebrate the area taking shape for the next phase of it’s life!