Team renovating Hastings’ old Observer building looks to community for help

A public consultation on the future of the Observer Building
A public consultation on the future of the Observer Building

The team behind the renovation of the old Observer Building in Hastings town centre is looking to the community to help shape its future.

With the 5,000 quare metres of internal concrete repairs now complete, the project has been handed a boost of £400,000 allocated from the recently-announced £2 million High Street Heritage Action Zone grant for Trinity Triangle.

Emily Berwyn, one of the project’s directors, said: “When we bought Rock House we had just £80k in the bank to start renovating. Now it’s a beacon of community-led regeneration. Its sustained success has proved that there is a better way to own and manage property – with fair rents, shared values and community ownership.

“We are determined to run the Observer Building in the same way, but the funding landscape is very challenging this time. We welcome any ideas, advice or offers of investment to help us bring the building back into community use.”

Work began this September to gather people’s ideas at events attended by more than 2,000 people. Visitors commented on design proposals for each floor at the Coastal Currents exhibition and the Village Fete in the Alley, where suggestions including a climbing wall, a creative hub for families, a palm house on the roof and even a banana shop, were put forward.

Alongside architects IF_DO, the project team will be gathering ideas from the public on November 30, between 11am and 5pm at the Retrobella Vintage Market in the Observer Building; and December 12, between 11pm and 2pm at the town centre market in Robertson Street.

The team said it has received expressions of interest from more than 140 potential tenants and hirers since February. It also said it hopes to have the building part-open by summer next year.