Hastings community office space fighting gentrification

The 'ground control' at Rock House, which offers free space for residents and not-for-profit companies SUS-161021-142738001
The 'ground control' at Rock House, which offers free space for residents and not-for-profit companies SUS-161021-142738001

A community office block is offering affordable office space to help fight gentrification in Hastings town centre.

Rock House, on Cambridge Road, has seven floors of business space below two residential floors as well as a ‘ground control’ where residents and not-for-profit firms can work for free.

Rock House SUS-161021-142751001

Rock House SUS-161021-142751001

The building claims to have the fastest broadband in Hastings, renewably sourced electricity and allows tenants to self-manage its day-to-day running.

Owners White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures (WRNV) wants to support creative firms in the town through capped rents and flexible tenancy to give less-wealthy companies a chance to flourish.

“The vision has always been to create a mixed-use building – space for living, working and community action – where creativity and collaboration could thrive, with capped rents to protect affordability and preserve the diversity of the neighbourhood,” a spokesman said.

“Jess Steele of Jericho Road [one of the stakeholders] was recently on Radio 4 describing how Rock House aims to disrupt the usual gentrification story by making it possible for people who ‘scrape a living’ but contribute so much to the area to continue living and working here.”

Rock House was originally purchased by Meanwhile Space CIC and Jericho Road Solutions.

Keen for it to have strong community connections, they gave 10 per cent of the shares to White Rock Trust and in December, 2015, the three partners signed an agreement to hold equal shares in WRNV.

The first, second and third floors are home to a collection of creative businesses.

The ground floor, nicknamed ‘ground control’, contains a co-working space for entrepreneurs and start-ups or those wanting an extra desk away from their normal office space.

There is also space which can be hired that is free for not-for- profit community groups or residents to use.

Rock House has also just signed a contract with Opus Energy for 100 per cent renewably sourced electricity.

The latest advancement is the idea of self-management which lets tenants take control of managing the cleaning and waste contracts, lift maintenance, security and general decision-making, rather than paying a letting agent.

This gives tenants more autonomy in how they feel the building should be managed and saving themselves extra costs.

Another new feature soon to appear is some digital signage in the ground floor window to advertise the projects of all the tenants in the building, plus news and events in the White Rock area.

WRNV is calling for interested tenants, users and supporters to join its friends network to help Rock House develop.

For more information, email info@rockhouse.org.uk.

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