£160k revamp for landmark Bottle Alley

Bottle Alley
Bottle Alley

Plans for a £160,000 revamp of the seafront’s landmark Bottle Alley walkway are set to be given the go-ahead.

The plans will be discussed at the borough councils’ cabinet meeting on Monday evening (January 5).

The alleyway is the only one of its kind in the UK and it is hoped the project will prove to be a catalyst for further regeneration of that area of the promenade.

It follows on from the rebuilding of the pier and the opening of the Source BMX centre at the old swimming baths.

The council aims to carry out cosmetic repairs to replace missing concrete throughout the whole structure.

Council leader Jeremy Birch said: “It has always been our intention to draw people further west along the seafront. The Bottle Alley plan fits in with our plans for the area to try and encourage more people to come to the White Rock area and on to the Warrior Square Gardens seafront.”

The Bottle Alley Restoration Group launched a petition last May to urge the council to restore its original appearance and to maintain it as a public gateway between St Leonards and Hastings. It attracted 769 signatures.

They wanted a full restoration but the council cannot afford full waterproofing and resurfacing. A report to the cabinet recommends the committee acknowledge the group’s concerns.

Bottle Alley is believed to be the only twin deck promenade of its kind in the country.

It was part of borough engineer Sidney Little’s plans to spend £49,200 on improving the promenade between the west end of the White Rock baths and London Road.

It was built between 1925 and 1939 by the Hastings Corporation and was designed to provide public access at two levels formally opening in 1934.

The report notes that the alley was surveyed in 1999 and when its condition was considered to be poor. Further surveys in 2005 and 2011 confirmed that it was deteriorating at ‘expected rates’.

The report states: “The lower tier is currently underused as a subway and suffers from poor lighting even in the summer. During winter months it is deserted and can have an intimidating atmosphere.

“The structure is tested annually for unsafe concrete which is then removed.

“In 2011, an extensive survey provided costs to maintain and repair the structure to extend its life for five, 30 or 75 years with costs estimated at £40,000, £1.6 million and £6 million respectively.

“The short-term repairs were carried out while longer term options were subject to further investigation.”

Andre Palfrey-Martin, a spokesman for the group, said: “It’s a step in the right direction. It’s just been a forgotten area. It could attract a lot of social events down there and it just needs footfall to attract people in. It’s a heritage asset and could make a great community area.

“The pier is going to be a catalyst and could attract people to walk up and down Bottle Alley. But for that to happen it needs to be kept clean and safe.”