NEW offices creating space for almost 500 jobs are set to be built at the heart of Hastings town centre.
Developers from regeneration company Sea Space have been given the go-ahead to knock down Queensbury House in Havelock Road, together with adjoining buildings in the street and in neighbouring Priory Street.
They plan to replace everything with one 64,500 sq ft office block, split into two sections with ground-floor space for new shops and restaurants.
But objectors said the town’s heritage was being destroyed as the scheme, which was discussed at a council planning meeting on Wednesday, would mean the loss of several Victorian buildings.
Aubrey Ingleton, who set up a petition, said: “This is a huge overdevelopment and the Victorian buildings are assets to our heritage.
“There are opportunities for businesses to come here and use existing office space. This proposal ought to be smaller and more suitable for this part of town.”
Councillor Michael Wincott said: “If I was a visitor coming to Hastings for the first time and saw the proposed building I would think it would think it’s an unfinished Lego building.”
Councillors expressed concerns about the proposed height of the new building, which would include a tower at one end.
Paul Adams, from Sea Space, said the scheme was the ‘next logical step’ in the development of Hastings’s Priory Quarter business district.
He said the plans follow the creation of Lacuna Place and One Priory Square, where Saga is now based.
Mr Adams added: “We need to continue this momentum. There are very few sites available in the town suitable for regeneration and this proposal would achieve capacity for around 500 jobs.”
Ray Crawford, Hastings Borough Council planning officer, said: “The existing buildings within the proposals do not provide good quality accommodation and are in a very poor state of repair. They don’t lend themselves to modern office use.”
Cllr Peter Pragnell said the Priory Quarter area once looked like a ‘bomb site’ and Sea Space’s scheme would lead to the tearing down of a ‘hideous eyesore’, namely Queensbury House, which is only partially occupied by offices.
Cllr Godfrey Daniel, the planning committee’s chairman, said: “I don’t think this scheme is that controversial. To be honest we have loads of Victorian buildings and these three here are dilapidated.
“You have to create empty office blocks if you want major employers to come to this town.
“If you really want to see Hastings take off in its development you have to take bold decisions.”