Next steps for major Hastings regeneration projects agreed
The next step of a major regeneration project in Hastings has been given the go ahead by town council leaders.
On Friday (June 25), Hastings Borough Council’s cabinet gave authority for work to begin on the next stage of projects, which were recently awarded up to £24.3m from the government’s Towns Fund.
During the meeting, cabinet members agreed to sign off the heads of terms for the government’s funding agreement and to begin work on business cases for the individual projects.
The projects include the construction of a new green and low carbon centre of excellence, as well as major improvements to Hastings Castle and other public spaces in the town.
As well as £24.3m from government, these projects are set to receive a further £85m of match funding from a range of local organisations and other funding sources.
While the government funding was welcomed, some cabinet members expressed doubts as to what impact it would have on the town’s wider regeneration aims.
Peter Chowney, cabinet member for finance, said: “The money is welcome, but of course prior to 2010 we received at least 10 times this amount of funding [from the government]. We have received almost nothing over the last 10 years.”
He added: “If I look at my own ward and the kind of social and economic problems we have there, to what extent is this going to transform the lives of people in the Holton and Farley Banks estates? I don’t know.
“It will hopefully have some effect. Some people there will get some benefit out of it. Is it going to transform those estates and make everyone there prosperous, well educated and highly skilled? No, it isn’t.
“I think we need to build on this, yeah, but in those kinds of areas the kind of level of problems we’ve got there in terms of lack of educational achievement, poor health outcomes, lack of skills and just a general cycle of worklessness that is what we need to break and that is what we need the funding for.
“This is a start. It’s good but I am not convinced that this is going to have a huge impact on those sorts of problems.”
A similar note was struck by the councillor’s deputy Paul Barnett, who said: “This is another government beauty parade, which they insist on holding instead of giving every authority what they really need every year, but it is one we have entered and won.
“The people who are comparing us with other towns and districts throughout the country have decided we’ve actually put up a really good case.
“We are known as being a bit of an awkward squad in Hastings. The town survives and thrives despite everything the world throws at it and I think that is getting noticed, which is why people want to relocate here, set up new businesses here.
“The town’s reputation is no longer about what happened in 1066, it is about the fact it is a booming, thriving, creative place to live and work.”