THE first part of The Stade regeneration project was unveiled last week and was hailed as a “tremendous” boost for the town.
Councillors, council officers, community groups, the architects, builders and others involved in the project descended on the Old Town seafront on Tuesday to see the new Stade Hall and the public toilets opened - although bizarrely no media were invited to the event.
The unveiling marks the first phase of the ambitious and sometimes controversial multi-million pound redevelopment of The Stade which will see the Jerwood Gallery opened in the autumn.
Cllr Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council, had the honour of opening the new community hall alongside mayor Kim Forward and he said: “This is a very important day for Hastings, its residents and visitors. We have come a long way very quickly. Work started on this site last April, and here we are, less than a year later, opening it.
“This project is tremendous for Hastings, and, with the Jerwood Gallery due to open later this year, will undoubtedly benefit our visitor economy.”
He paid tribute to Tim Ronalds Architects and Westridge Construction which have overseen the project, and he also thanked the Old Town community, particularly the fishermen and the lifeboat crew for their “understanding and patience” during the building work.
He added: “It is also a fantastic asset for the local community too. I have no doubt at all that the Stade Hall will be popular with community groups, schools, and indeed anyone with a love of Hastings and our unique heritage.”
Cllrs Birch and Forward also toured the new public toilets, which include a specially-designed hoist-assisted toilet for disabled people. Cllr Forward said: “It is important that we meet the needs of all members of our community and I am so pleased that all residents and visitors to our town will be well catered for.”
Progress on The Stade site will come as relief to many businesses in the vicinity, with some nearby shops and cafes reporting their trade being slashed by up to 70 per cent during the disruption.