Revised plans for old Observer building unveiled

An artist's impression of the revised plans
An artist's impression of the revised plans

Developers wanting to convert the old Observer building have unveiled revised plans for the Hastings landmark.

Flint Development Group is aiming to provide accommodation for 230 students, an art-house cinema and a shop/restaurant for Sussex food and produce at the site in Cambridge Road, which closed 30 years ago.

Jeff Kirby, the company’s chief executive officer, said two floors had been taken off the height of the original plans after more than 500 individual and group consultations were carried out.

The plans were first unveiled in the summer.

At a meeting in September hosted by the developers, people’s main concerns were over the addition of a seven-storey building on top of the existing structure, saying it would cause overshadowing.

In unveiling the revised plans on Tuesday (December 8) to more than 150 residents at the latest meeting, Mr Kirby also announced a public park would be added the roof of the proposed building and committed to maintaining the ground floor as a popular community space, with plans for a farmer’s market and restaurant.

He said: “To make this project work economically and be a real success for the town, we have had to go up. But we’ve listened to the community and have dramatically reduced the height from our original plans.

“We removed several tonnes of pigeon and seagull guano from the building, as well as mattresses and an entire room full of empty cider bottles.

“On the roof there will now be mirror panels that reflect the seaside sky line as well a public park which will become a new venue for Hastings, overlooking the sea and town below.

“The new Observer building has been designed by and with the local community to make it something that works for us all, and comes from the heart of this incredible place.”

As developers await a decision on the scheme, which will be decided by Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee at a later date, the ground floor of the Observer building has become the ‘OB’, a community and arts space which is currently playing host to the Mind Invasion exhibition until Sunday, December 20.

The exhibition brings dozens of local and international collage artists together in one place.

The reopening of the old Observer building was marked with an official launch event on August 29.

Dublin and Holland, a new social enterprise, has staged a number of events in the building since then and continues to do so prior to its proposed redevelopment.

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