A Hastings seafront landmark is set for a new lease of life after a major renovation scheme was given unanimous backing by councillors.
Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee approved an application to renovate and alter the White Rock Fountain, creating a paved area with benches and planting yesterday (Wednesday November 7).
The approved plans include a ‘exploded rock’ sculpture paying tribute on to the original White Rock, which was blown up nearby in 1834.
The sculpture, to be carved with the words ‘White Rock Hastings’, will be surrounded by jets to create a cooling ‘sea mist’ effect, which visitors can walk through on sunny days.
Putting forward a motion to grant planning permission, Warren Davies (Lab, Baird) praised the ‘exciting design’. He said: “This is innovative. It is taking what I think is a basically sound design from different era – what was a innovative design in the 1920s.
“It is taking that piece of iconic architecture and it is reinterpreting it for the 21st century and It is doing it in a way which is sensitive to the surrounding area.
“As someone who cycles along the seafront virtually everyday, the present concrete and the way it jumps out I find a hazard. I’m surprised there hasn’t been an accident as of yet with a bicycle going into the concrete semi-circle.
“It is innovative, exciting and makes Hastings seafront event more of a place to visit on the south coast.”
Several other councillors praised the scheme, but concerns were raised about whether the potential of anti-social behaviour had been considered by designers.
Phil Scott (Lab. – Wishing Tree) said: “Whilst I do support the application I do have some concerns around the designing out aspect in terms of crime and community safety.
“I think we do need to talk about Sussex Police about this because we do have a problem with street drinkers. We are trying to improve this area – and this clearly would improve the area – but we need to make absolutely sure that Sussex Police are fully on board with our concern about street drinkers that may congregate there throughout the summer.
“If it is to be a desirable place for everybody then you can bet your bottom dollar that street drinkers will want to sit there and observe the views and have a nice vista while they are having a drink or two at the same time.
“It would be helpful to have a view about community safety and how they can support Hastings Borough Council officers in designing out particular areas where street drinkers and others who may engage in anti-social behaviour may congregate.”
In response to Cllr Scott’s concerns, the committee agreed to add an advisory condition asking for the final scheme to be reviewed by the council’s community safety officer.
According to plans submitted to the committee, the renovation scheme comes as part of a package of works to be funded from the Coastal Communities Fund.
The works will replace the existing White Rock Fountain, which was created in 1987 but was decommissioned after several years due to excessive water use and running costs.