New firm moves to Hastings town centre

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BUSINESS leaders have welcomed the news that another firm has moved to Hastings - but the town still has a lot of vacant office space left to fill.

New Career Skills, which trains career changers in plumbing, electrical and renewable energy trades, has moved its head office to Lacuna Place, in the Priory Quarter business district near the train station.

The company has 74 staff and offices and training centres in Southampton, Watford and Doncaster.

Lacuna Place now has 65 per cent of its office space filled by firms like Heringtons Solicitors and Bibby Financial Services. But the rest of the building still remains empty.

One Priory Square, next to Lacuna Place, was taken up earlier this year by Saga Insurance.

The Enviro21 business park, off Queensway, still only has 50 per cent of its office space occupied.

Graham Marley, chief executive of the Let’s Do Business group, said: “This has been a reasonable result getting the number of new businesses in Hastings, bearing the mind the financial crisis over the last two years. Getting Saga here was a real boost.

“We would like to see the office blocks completely full but we have to be realistic in that businesses are now more cautious about investing in expansion or moving premises than they were when these offices were built.”

Brett McLean, chairman of the 1066 branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said he believed enough was being done to promote Hastings and fill office space.

He said: “The FSB in East Sussex has spearheaded a £5million bid to the Government’s Regional Growth Fund to help create 310 new apprenticeships for people.

“If the bid is successful we look forward to working with New Career Skills.

“We do regret not having sufficient office space two years ago. If we had the UK Passport Agency would have been here, which would have been brilliant for jobs.”

Last month the council gave the go-ahead for developers at regeneration company Sea Space to knock down Queensbury House and several adjacent Victorian buildings to make way for new office blocks.