New visitor centre is long overdue

Recent correspondents need to check their information about plans for the new visitor centre before writing to the Observer.

The plans for the new country park visitor centre have been available on the council’s website since December.

Before they were finalised there was extensive consultation including a week in Priory Meadow shopping centre in September when staff from the council and the architects were available to discuss the plans.

There was a day-long event at the Country Park which many Fairlight residents attended.

There was also a planning forum at the Town Hall attended not only by councillors but also residents of Hastings and Fairlight who have an interest in our country park. The Friends of Hastings Country Park and volunteers have been involved from the start of the project. The only objections raised at these events were to do with competition for the Coastguard Tearooms.

The plans submitted do not include a restaurant just space for a few chairs and tables to enable visitors to stop for a cup of tea or coffee. The rooftop viewing platform was warmly welcomed in the consultation to take advantage of the fantastic views. It will also be a ‘living roof’ with planting to provide additional habitats to attract wildlife.

The building will only operate from 9am to 5pm and the outside amphitheatre will only be used as an outdoor classroom. It will not be ‘a commercial venture many times its (existing visitor centre’s) size, designed for revenue-raising and late parties’ nor will it have ‘an open air theatre, weddings and parties, a swinging hotspot’ or any of the other suggestions that have appeared online and in leaflets circulated anonymously.

It will be a visitor centre providing information and education regarding the local landscape and special character and beauty of Hastings Country Park for the benefit of all local residents and visitors especially school children.

It will be built of the most environmentally sustainable materials available including straw bales, recycled car tyres and natural lime renders and plasters.

Like everybody who genuinely cares about our wonderful country park and wants to encourage future generations to appreciate it as well, I wholeheartedly welcome this long overdue replacement and can’t wait for it to open next spring.

Councillor Richard Street

Labour councillor for Ore