Temporary use of Observer building as arts venue

An artist's impression of the revised plans for the old Observer building
An artist's impression of the revised plans for the old Observer building

Developers have been given the go-ahead to use the old Observer building in the town centre as an arts space.

Flint Development Group submitted a retrospective planning application to Hastings Borough Council to use the sub basement, ground floor and first floor as a temporary venue for an art gallery and artist studio spaces, bar, cafe and entertainment and cinema area at the Cambridge Road building.

Councillors on the council’s planning committee voted unanimously to give the plans the green light at a meeting last Wednesday (December 23).

In his report, planning officer Sam Batchelor said: “The Observer building was formerly a printing works for the Observer newspaper and has been vacant for more than 20 years.

“The current owners of the site wish to use the space for a temporary period until such time that the building can be redesigned for a more permanent use. A planning application for the proposed redevelopment has not yet been submitted. The proposed uses are for a temporary period only and as such, will not compromise the future development/redevelopment potential.

“The temporary use of this building is welcome and will prevent further deterioration of an otherwise derelict building.”

The council granted the temporary use for two years.

Earlier this month, Flint Development Group unveiled revised plans for the old Observer building.

It is aiming to provide accommodation for 230 students, an art-house cinema and a shop/restaurant for Sussex food and produce at the site.

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 when people’s main concerns were over the addition of a seven-storey building on top of the existing structure, saying it would cause overshadowing.

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