The Old Town of Hastings has been crowned best neighbourhood in the UK and Ireland.
The Old Town scooped the accolade at the 2016 Urbanism Awards Ceremony, held on Friday (November 6), fighting off strong competition from Devonshire Quarter, Sheffield, and Hulme, Manchester.
The award is one of five given out annually by built-environment network The Academy of Urbanism to recognise the best, most enduring or most improved urban environments.
Voted on by its members, who include leading architects, planners and developers, each award covers a number of social, economic and environmental factors, including good governance and commercial success.
Following their assessment visit to Hastings Old Town during the summer, judges were particularly impressed with the way in which it has kept much of its historic fabric and layout intact, yet managed to embrace contemporary additions that creatively respond to the townscape.
A noted example was the Jerwood Gallery, amongst other new buildings on the town’s seafront.
Underlying the successful transformation is a consultation process and partnership with the community, especially a number of neighbourhood associations, as a result of which an increasing number of people are choosing to live and work in this stimulating and distinctive place.
Steven Bee, chair of the Academy, said: “The tight network of small-scale historic streets provides an attractive and popular built character.
“The benefits are not just aesthetic however. The area is walkable, with a lively mixes of people and uses, generally comfortable with living in close proximity.
“Its successful fishing fleet and associated businesses are attracting new business leisure uses, strengthening its popularity.
“Our finalists, this year as every previous year, are places that offer evidence of how great places evolve from the efforts of their citizens, institutions and enterprises.
“The Academy of Urbanism celebrates the achievements of our 15 finalists and the lessons they offer to other places seeking to emulate their success.”
Cllr Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council, said: “Although we didn’t attend the awards evening, I am delighted that we have won this award.
“We have always been proud of our community spirit, and this award recognises the uniqueness of our historic Old Town- the incredible mix of building styles, and of the people who live and work there.”
The other winners were: San Sebastian, which scooped The European City of the Year Award; Frome, which won The Great Town Award; Oliver Plunkett Street, which picked up The Great Street Award; and Peace Bridge/Ebrington Square, which won The Great Place Award.
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