It’s time for a re-think on regeneration

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COULD there be a link between rejection of Sea Space’s £8 million bid for development of Priory Quarter and Enviro21 Innovation Park (page 2, Observer, April 15) and poor uptake of units at these multi-million pound projects (page 21)?

Cllr Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council, says the town is improving but needs an “extra boost, to guarantee the jobs and prosperity we need”. Julian Crampton, chairman of Sea Space, reckons the projects are “vitally important for the area” and is considering re-submitting the application to the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

It’s impossible to overstate how delusional these people are, the ones who were clamouring for regeneration funds, and got them. The 31,398 sqft office space at Lacuna Place was scheduled for completion in 2008; One Priory Square was due for completion in 2009, adding 44,883 sqft. They’re not finished. The latest bid is for a further 67,800sqft of offices; it’s failed to convince anyone this would be money well spent.

Hastings has a big history and a lot of self-aggrandising ideas about its place in the world. But our position in the deprivation tables tells it how it is. It’s an old beauty trading on the past, not even bothering to scrub up and make the best of the assets it has. Hastings Borough Council is complacent and lazy, bloated with welfare and a sense of entitlement. Sea Space should’ve matched the opportunity it had with a show of excellence. It patched together schemes, and resistance to completing them, is part of the same malaise.

The days of reckless Labour government, pumping money in faster than Sea Space and Hastings Borough Council can squander, are over. Birch and Crampton should get themselves sorted, pay attention to finishing what’s been started. Go have a look at the £71 million Station Plaza project, see the mess it’s in.

ROGER COLLYER

Braybrooke Terrace