Is our town ready to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Is it time that Hastings and St Leonards became a World Heritage Site?

That’s the question up for debate later this month at an open meeting being staged by the Hastings and St Leonards Society and according to Julia Hilton of Hastings Green party making such an application could form part of  “a clear vision and framework … for the precious and unique heritage and landscape assets of our town.”

Ms Hilton was addressing the cabinet of Hastings Borough Council. The cabinet had been due to have further discussions on the proposed harbour and marina development but that scheme has been withdrawn by its backers, Ms Hilton told councillors: “I have watched with interest the ‘spin’ the council has been putting on the withdrawal announcement, claiming that the development was ‘rejected’ due to the Council’s clear ‘red lines’.

Julia Hilton, who spoke to HBC’s cabinet last night.

“But the decision taken at the cabinet meeting last September was unanimous in allowing this destructive development to take the next step towards trying to seek public money for the company to do feasibility studies. It is a relief that the relevant government departments had enough sense to realise how destructive this proposal could be and refused any public subsidy being given to the developers.”

Councillors also heard that the local Green party had had, ‘hundreds of conversations’ with local people on the proposal and Ms Hilton said it was clear that many people do not feel that they have a voice or any say over development plans.

“I would urge the council to urgently explore more creative and open ways to involve local people in co-creating a vision for our town,” she said.

And she urged councillors to attend the upcoming open meeting to discuss whether Hastings should start the process to seek United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Status. The meeting is being held at 6pm on Friday October 19th at Brighton University’s building in Priory Square, Hastings.

To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.


To represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;


To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;


To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilisation which is living or which has disappeared;


To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;


To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;


To be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);


To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;


To be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;


To be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;


To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

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