The current housing crisis in Hastings and St Leonards and the dictates of overpopulation have occupied many columns in your paper recently.
This leads me naturally to the question of our city fathers’ housing policy in general and in particular to its application in the case of Western Road, a quiet backwater in Central St Leonards. Why is this road a shadow of its former self?
Had our council any coherent plan in mind for its harmonious, overall (as opposed to piecemeal) development? It would appear not. It has degenerated over the years into a mere thoroughfare with a slightly seedy atmosphere, where one would not care to linger.
The surviving Victorian terraced houses stand as a welcome reminder of a bygone age and add a bit of much needed character to the road. At least they were solidly built, even though they are not particularly distinctive. Some now appear scarcely inhabited or fit for habitation and this typifies the decline of the area.
The whole road has been a casualty to tasteless, mediocre modern development, with the possible exception of the tolerably neat and tidy mews houses on the western side. The general effect is unattractive, jarring and utilitarian. The overriding consideration seems to have been to cram as many people as possible into as small a space as possible, though, mercifully, high rise building has been avoided.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Western Road is not conducive to business or enterprise of any kind. It patently lacks the feel good factor. The Roomz Café, once a venue for gigs, has closed down and, after only a couple of years, its successor is up for sale. The much advertised Contemporary Music School is inconspicuous and neither frequented nor vibrant.
To sum up, this could and should have been a prestigious residential street in the heart of an up and coming, increasingly fashionable seaside resort, not a hotch-potch.
What was of historical value could have been preserved and restored.
The wider picture and aesthetic considerations have been largely sacrificed to short term needs.
Have you checked out our new Christmas section yet?
It’s packed with ideas and tips to ensure you make the most out of the festive season.
There’s recipes, suggestions for presents and everything from choosing your tree to recycling your packaging and paper.